Electric conversion gives old Land Rover Defenders a 200-mile range

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A Land Rover tuning firm has introduced an electric conversion kit for the original Defender that ups power to 214bhp and offers more than 200 miles of range to a charge.

Twisted’s system is built in partnership with Dutch firm Plower and comes in a modular format that can be slotted directly into almost any Defender without  major alterations.

The conversion involves removing the engine, transmission and fuel tank, before fitting the motor, reduction gear assembly, battery packs and control systems into place. The original transfer box is retained, meaning vehicles still have a mechanical high and low range, a lockable centre differential and a 3.5t towing capacity.

See also: Land Rover Defender gets 450hp electric transformation

Three selectable modes – Eco, Sport and Off Road – change the motor’s characteristics to best suit the driving conditions and help prevent spirited drivers from eating through the charge too quickly. A regenerative braking system also helps recover some of the energy lost when decelerating and puts it back into the batteries.

The kits are compatible with all 90, 110 and 130 models and come in two powers grades – a standard (but still pretty sprightly) 214hp/320Nm and souped-up 320bhp/460Nm. For those interested in how fast that makes them off the mark, Twisted quotes respective 0-60mph times of 10secs and 8.2secs.

To help the vehicle deal with this extra power, the firm gives the option of fitting uprated Bilstein coil shocks, big disc brakes with ABS on all corners and alloy wheels with higher speed-rated tyres. The transfer case and differentials are also strengthened to take the additional power.

Range and charging times

During typical driving, Twisted expects the 60kWh battery pack to give more than 200 miles of range, and when connected to a high-power 22kW charger, it can recharge from flat in about three hours.

However, short top-ups at service stations can significantly extend the range on longer journeys as charge times are faster when the batteries aren’t fully depleted.

Rapid acceleration, high-speed driving and heavy towing will reduce the range, so Twisted is planning to offer larger battery packs and even faster chargers.

Defender 90 models only have space for the 60kWh packs, but the 110 can go up to 84kWh, which will extend range to more than 250 miles.

The batteries are designed to last for at least 2,000 heavy charge cycles (full charge to flat with aggressive driving), so will do many more part charges.

See also: On test: Electric Tesla Model X serves up taste of future

How it is put together

The main drop-in assembly sits in the engine bay and this houses some of the batteries and ancillary items such as the heater, brake servo vacuum, power steering pump and battery management system.

The motor and reduction gearbox bolt to the transfer case, in place of the original transmission, and the rest of the batteries are split between a box that bolts in place of the old fuel tank and slim units along the cills.

All the battery boxes are waterproof, so wading depth actually goes up from the original 500mm to 800mm.

Prices and conversion times

With prices starting at £69,950 – not including the cost of the original vehicle – it’s a rather weighty investment.

The payoff is zero road tax, considerably lower running costs, quieter operation and an easy conscience when driving past the local primary school. But these benefits won’t help bring it within reach of the average Defender owner.

Happily, Twisted plans to produce the kit in larger volumes and its aim is to make it affordable for all. Tax incentives also make it easier to stomach for business owners and there could be grants available to offset some of the conversion cost.

Order books have already opened, and the conversion takes about two weeks to complete. The work is carried out at the firm’s Bristol EV workshop, but vehicles can be dropped off at the firm’s headquarters in Thirsk, Yorkshire.

Twisted electric Defender specs

 

Standard conversion

Performance conversion

Range

200+ miles

200+ miles

Battery size

60 kWh

60kWh

Charging time

3 hours with 22kWh charger

3 hours with 22kWh charger

Power

214bhp

320bhp

Torque

380Nm

460Nm

Transmission

Gear reduction box that retains transfer case

Gear reduction box that retains transfer case

0-60mph time

10secs

8.2secs

Towing capacity

3.5t

3.5t

Conversion starting price

£69,950

£79,950

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