The Land Rover Defender is set to go fully electric within the next few years, Auto Express could reveal. The latest iteration of the popular 4×4 was only introduced in 2020, however we’re likely to see all-electric versions of the 90, 110 and 130 models arrive as part of the refreshed Defender range in 2025, with the cars reaching customers in 2026.
The move likely means a shift in platform technology, from the existing D7 Premium Lightweight Architecture to Land Rover’s new advanced MLA Flex platform. The MLA can support all-electric powertrains as well as internal combustion engines, and it already supports the company’s new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, with all-electric versions of those cars from 2024.
A platform switch will come around the time Defender is slated for a mid-life update, but don’t expect major changes in the car’s appearance, despite the change in architecture. As with the Discovery Sport when it switched platforms to Land Rover’s signature transverse architecture in 2019 (as part of a midlife refresh) to allow for more electrification, the Defender’s shape and dimensions are expected to remain the same.
There could be some changes to the infotainment system inside, with a slightly larger screen, but the cabin design has been so well received by customers that it isn’t expected to change much. An increase in the use of sustainable materials is likely, though Land Rover is looking to bolster its credentials in this area.
The company’s engineers are optimistic about the prospect of the iconic four-wheel drive SUV becoming electric and the benefits this will bring to its off-road performance. Electric power delivery can be further controlled through software management, along with advanced torque vectoring. Both will enhance the Defender’s serious off-road capability, while the completely flat underside provides greater ground clearance, too.
Technical details of the Defender EV’s sister vehicle, the all-electric Range Rover due in 2024, have yet to be revealed, but Land Rover insiders note that a battery with around 100 kWh would fit easily into the MLA platform, And the goal would be at least 300 miles of all-electric running.
We haven’t yet seen how Land Rover differentiates the look of its all-electric models from the internal combustion engine cars, but with less cooling required, we expect the ICE model’s intakes to be eliminated for the electric version – as previewed by our exclusive Defender EV photo. Rumors from JLR suggest that this treatment could also be applied to the company’s only current all-electric model, the Jaguar I-Pace, which is due for a refresh in early 2023.
The Land Rover Discovery—which shares its platform and product lines with the Defender—will also go all-electric and move up the market, with former CEO Thierry Bollory telling us, “We’re completely reinventing the Discovery. We think there’s room for that, but we have to get creative.”
“We need to make a true family car for privileged families. Discovery must, and must play, the role that would otherwise disappear from the market—in the luxury segments at least. Discovery will be that car.”
Although Bolloré has now left the company, with former CFO Adrian Mardell now interim CEO, JLR’s Reimagine program is still afoot – including the full electrification of the Land Rover range by the end of the decade, as well as the reinvention of Jaguar. In an all-electric luxury brand. JLR factories around the world are also preparing for the next generation of electric battery models.
Despite calls from some quarters for Land Rover to speed up the arrival of all-electric models, the current management is in no mood to do so, given the company has an order bank of more than 200,000 vehicles – mostly high-margin Rovers, Range Rover Sports and Defenders.
There is clearly a demand for JLR electrical products from buyers. Right now, about 65 percent of all models sold are electrified in some way, from mild hybrids to plug-ins and I-Pace full EVs.
Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs for sale right now…
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