Land Rover developing hydrogen powered Defender

Prototype 4x4 to begin testing this year as JLR looks to go zero-emissions by 2036
Land Rover DefenderLand Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

Land Rover is working on a hydrogen powered version of the new Defender.

Testing of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCEV) is scheduled to begin in the UK later this year as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) efforts to reach zero tailpipe emissions from its vehicles by 2036.

Jaguar already sells the I-Pace EV and has said that by 2025 all its vehicles will be electric. Land Rover offers a number of hybrid vehicles, including the Defender, but the prototype 4x4 will be its first fully zero-emissions car.

Land Rover DefenderLand Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

The British brands said that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, will complement a switch towards electric vehicles. Hydrogen power is suited to larger, longer-range vehicles and for use in environments with particularly high or low temperatures, making it a potentially better fit for Land Rover than a battery electric drivetrain.

Land Rover said that this year’s testing will allow its engineers to understand how hydrogen powered drivetrains can be optimised to deliver the “performance and capability" expected by its customers. That includes off-road and towing ability as well as addressing concerns around range and refuelling.

FCEVs use electric motors to drive the wheels but generate electricity by splitting hydrogen molecules and passing the electrons through a circuit to create a flow of electricity. Like battery EVs they produce no CO2 at the point of use and their only tailpipe emissions are water.

JLR’s Project Zeus is being part funded by the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre and involves working with Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.

Ralph Clague, head of hydrogen and fuel cells for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles.

“The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”

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