Axeon builds an all-electric version of the iconic Land Rover Defender

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 8, 2011

Axeon, the leading independent producer and developer of lithium-ion battery systems in Europe, and Jaguar Land Rover South Africa has worked closely to manufacture an all-electric version of the iconic Defender model to be used in game parks, reducing noise and environmental pollution. Instead of the standard 2.4-litre diesel engine originally fitted into the Land Rover Defender 110 High Capacity Pick Up, Axeon’s battery system was utilized.

This battery system was designed to fit into the engine bay of the vehicle, and not on the vehicle’s floor like many battery packs in EVs. In this way, ground clearance and wading heights are maintained.

The bespoke system also integrates Axeon’s proprietary Battery Management System (BMS), which monitors the battery state, controlling and measuring core operational parameters. This will ensure safety, which is vital for an EV that may face harsh conditions.

With the engine replacement, the production vehicle will be able to operate in a quiet manner. Also, its tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions level of 295g/km is reduced to zero. Furthermore, tests showed that the vehicle’s range can go three times a typical game drive on a single charge.

The battery was developed within a short period of time by deploying Axeon’s accumulated experience in the manufacture and design of lithium-ion battery systems. Actively working with engineers from South African partner Barker Performance Products as well as from Land Rover also contributed to the short timescale.

Land Rover is celebrating its 60th anniversary by launching a special edition of the Defender -- the SVX. Land Rover UK donated the first example of the Defender SVX to the British Red Cross to be put under the hammer at the British Red Cross Ball. James Johnstone, chairman for the British Red Cross Ball, remarked that the relationship between the Red Cross and Land Rover dates back to 1954, when the British brand provided a vehicle for use by the British Red Cross in Dubai as a mobile dispensary.

Johnstone quipped that British Red is thrilled with Land Rover’s support for the ball, adding that the funds raised from auctioning the first Defender SVX will be used to finance the work of the Red Cross in the UK and abroad, covering outfits like the floods in the UK, the Darfur Crisis and current HIV work in Africa. Most of the Land Rover Defenders leaving the assembly line annually find themselves serving as working tools for several trades – and the SVX is considered the most stylish and feature-laden version the brand has created so far.

Available in either 90 soft-top or 90 station wagon versions, the SVX is wrapped in metallic black paintwork and subtle satin black graphic decals, as well as contrasting silver finish like the distinct 'Defender' and 'SVX' badges and tubular side-steps. The bold surround for the front grille and its clear-lens headlamps also come in silver finish. Featuring a reinforced aluminum front undershield and clear LED rear lights, all SVX models ride in new, diamond turned five-spoke alloy wheels.

Inside, the Land Rover Defender SVX is specified with custom-designed Recaro front seats and unique alloy gear knobs, an iPod cradle and Garmin satellite navigation as well as a new audio system with subwoofer and USB socket. All soft-top models are provided with a metallic silver tubular cage supporting a removable black fabric hood that covers a flat load-space and a spare wheel stowed just behind the front seats.

Each SVX model for the UK will come with individually numbered plaque (e.g. 001). Land Rover managing director Phil Popham quipped that while the new Defender SVX appears very different to the 1948 Land Rover, it remains to be a practical vehicle that allows the driver to go almost anywhere they want. He remarked that a SVX special edition would be the best way to celebrate Land Rover's 60th birthday, especially with the launch of a new and more refined diesel engine that has been a hit with customers.

Land Rover will only produce 200 examples of the SVX in the UK, of which 140 are two-seat 90 soft-tops and the remaining units are four-seat 90 station wagons. Land Rover will commence production of the Land Rover Defender SVX in spring 2008, with deliveries to customers to begin early summer for soft-tops and later in the summer for the station wagons.

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