Known as ‘Freedom3’, the Defender 130 is destined for the Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana’s Chobe National Park, where it will be driven two or three times every day, ferrying guests around the reserve.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, Freedom3 is also able to creep closer to game wildlife, thanks to being silent when stationary, with no noisy diesel engine ticking over.
Driving the wheels is a 80kW permanent magnet motor, coupled directly to the original transfer case, delivering 442 lb ft (600Nm) of torque – that’s the same torque as a TDV6 Range Rover. High and low ratio, and diff lock, are both retained, so it should be as reliable in the rough stuff as regular ‘old-school’ Land Rover.
It’s all quite nifty. Power comes from a 35kWh battery that delivers 580V to a high-tech inverter that manipulates the DC current into a ‘precision controlled variable frequency three-phase AC sign wave’ current. That super-high voltage allows for greater efficiency and helps preserve the lifespan of the expensive lithium cells (aside from giving a good excuse to put AC/DC on the stereo…). Keeping it all safe are double layers of insulation, and plenty of fuses and contactors that isolate the inverter when the vehicle is switched off.
Charging from a dedicated Electric Vehicle parking bay, using a simple 30Amp 230V single phase power source, takes just two to three hours in most cases, but a full charge from empty will take 6 hours. Electricity comes from the Victoria Falls hydroelectric power scheme.
Freedom3’s range on the sandy tracks of Botswana is about 75 miles (120km), but on the open road she’ll manage 93 miles (150km) if driven carefully. Not bad considering Land Rover’s own electric Defender 110 development vehicles fizzled out after 50 miles (although to be fair, that’s with a train on the back – see our Oct 2013 issue!).
She’s the first of a number of electric vehicles planned to result from the collaboration between Freedom Won and the Chobe Game Lodge. Freedom Won started developing electric conversions ten years ago. You can read more about their previous projects by visiting the Freedom Won Website.