Will a Defender EV conversion save you money?

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21 July 2022
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Drop-in EV conversion kit from Electrogenic for working Defenders pays for itself in four years

For anyone thinking of converting their battered, farmyard workhorse to electric propulsion, Electrogenic may have the answer, but you’ll need to fork out £24k for the kit, plus a bit more to get a suitably trained mechanic to fit it. Despite that being equivalent to buying a couple of mid-nineties Defenders in well-used condition, Electrogenic reckons that owners can save up to £6000 per year in fuel and maintenance with its EV converted Defender – assuming the vehicle is used every day. And it’s not all hot air and PR – the Electrogenic team knows these figures are broadly accurate because it tested its EV conversion kit around Worthy Farm – site of the Glastonbury Festival – over the past 18 months.

Steve Drummond, co-founder of the company, says: “Defenders fitted with our kits do everything required of them on the farm quietly and efficiently. They are always there ready for use – just unplug and drive away; no more trips to the petrol station and instant heat on cold mornings.” So, what does 24-grand (and a bit) buy you and how does it compare with a standard diesel Defender? At the heart of the conversion is the 120bhp electric motor which also has a useful 173lb-ft of torque, all of which is available from standstill. Ensuring ease and cost-effectiveness, instead of the motor being axle-mounted and having a direct drive, it is bolted to the Defender’s existing gearbox bellhousing. This means the original gears and four-wheel drive system is utilised, keeping cost down and simplicity up.

Towing isn’t compromised either, with low-range gearboxes still fully functional via the electric conversion. Batteries total 52kWh of capacity and are stored in place of the Defender’s diesel engine under the bonnet. On the road, over 100 miles is possible – which is pretty useless – but around a farm at lower speeds, this increases significantly. Being air-cooled does bring a minor limitation in that a converted Defender can’t wade through deep water, so it’s not a car you’d take greenlaning. Another cost saving has come by limiting charging to 7.5kW, although faster charging can be added as an extra. So, if the vehicle doesn’t typically leave the area in which it’s used for work, then it can charge overnight, when energy is cheaper.

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It’s refreshing to see an EV conversion company taking a problem and instead of offering an overly gentrified solution, being pragmatic about what its customers really need. Drummond sums it up: “This kit is all about giving landowners an economic, sustainable option. It gives Land Rover Defenders – long a trusty workhorse for farms up and down the country – an affordable new lease of life, reducing running costs while enhancing performance and drivability.” What do you think?