Update: Complete article revised.
It is no news that every Land Rover model will adopt one or more zero-emission powertrains later this decade. The company is converting its large SUVs such as the Land Rover Defender, Discovery, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport to have electric variants. Turning the Defender, which is the most off-road focused model, into an EV would be the trickiest, considering how customers use the SUV.
Likely to launch in 2025, says a new British report
According to the December 2022 edition of Auto Express, it seems like the mighty Land Rover Defender will become an all-electric model in 2025 when it is time for the SUV’s mid-cycle update. This is even more interesting given that the current L663 model only came about in 2020, and currently offers a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Platform, Battery & Range
As per the Auto Express report, Land Rover could build the Defender electric variant on the newer and more sophisticated Flex Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform, instead of the D7 that underpins the standard Defender. This platform is currently used in some of the brand’s high-end models – the all-new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
Auto Express reports that the Defender EV will ditch the current D7 platform to utilize the MLA Flex that supports the new Range Rover family. Image: Jaguar Land Rover
One of the highlights of the MLA platform is its versatility, as it can underpin regular internal combustion models while also accommodating fully-electric vehicles without much trouble. According to the Auto Express report, company insiders have pointed out that the MLA platform is capable of handling a 100 kWh battery pack, with hopes of an all-electric range of around 300 miles (presumed to be WLTP range).
Managing vehicle weight
Thierry Bollore, the former CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, had said in 2021 that weight is a challenge with EVs. “They are already heavier than traditional car(s),” Bollore said, adding that it’s “especially because of batteries.” But the then-CEO was confident that the situation will change in the coming years, which is when we could see the ultimate Land Rover models with a zero-emission powertrain in showrooms. “There will be a step in the coming years where it’s going to come back in a virtuous circle as well,” he said.
Bollore was giving an insight into the future of Jaguar Land Rover during a conference call after parent company Tata Motors announced its annual report for 2020-21.
Concerning the way to manage the power, the torque, the experience of the customer, I can tell you, especially with special capabilities of our cars, that Defender, well, our team has done already a lot of tests. I can tell you, it’s easier and more enjoyable with electric motors than it is today with the traditional drivetrain.
Thierry Bollore, former CEO, Jaguar Land Rover, in 2021
Design & Interior
However, those wanting to see drastic design changes in the Defender Electric might be disappointed. That’s because Land Rover isn’t expected to make major revisions in this department, most likely sticking to minor cosmetic tweaks (if at all) in what will otherwise be a mid-cycle facelift for the Defender. That said, the Defender Electric could come with a blanked front grille & bumper, possibly along with different wheel designs, paint options, and a slightly revised rear bumper.
Minimal changes are expected in the cabin of the Defender Electric. Image: Land Rover
Similar to what we expect on the outside, we would likely see the same on the inside of the Defender Electric. As the Auto Express story points out, the interior of the outgoing model has already been receiving so many compliments that there is hardly any reason for Land Rover to make too many changes here either. However, brands such as Volvo and Rolls-Royce (among several others) have already committed to using more sustainable and eco-friendly materials and designs in the cabins of their EVs. Land Rover is most likely to follow suit.
A plug-in hybrid electric variant of the Land Rover Defender is already available at dealers. Image: Jaguar Land Rover
Depending on the variant and pricing, the Defender Electric will probably find competition in a wide range of high-end EVs. Some of the possible options for those cross-shopping may include the Scout Electric SUV, Rivian R1S, and the Jeep Recon. Mercedes plans to introduce the EQG in 2024, but it would at a much higher price point.
Variants & Release Date
Jaguar Land Rover’s new ‘Reimagine’ strategy puts an unprecedented impetus on electrification across the two brands. With the company planning to offer the entire model line-up in electric by 2030, the Land Rover Defender electric was inevitable. The right question to ask, is when would it release?
Land Rover has planned half a dozen electric vehicle launches by early 2026, as shown in this official teaser from 2021. Image: Jaguar Land Rover
By around early 2026, the Land Rover range will see the addition of “six pure electric variants,” JLR said while explaining the Reimagine strategy in February 2021. Perhaps the final launch in the sequence could be the Defender.
When the time comes, we can expect Land Rover to electrify all three variants of the Defender – i.e., the 90, 110, and 130. While Land Rover has remained tight-lipped when it comes to any concrete details of the Defender Electric, the first batch of vehicles could start reaching their customers in 2026, at least according to the Auto Express article cited in the story.
Featured Image Source: Jaguar Land Rover
Sagar Parikh Web Editor
With a Master’s Degree in Business Management & Administration, I’ve been working as an International Automotive News Editor since 2014, and have gained a wealth of knowledge and insight into hybrid and electric vehicles.