New all-electric Land Rover Defender on the way with 300-mile range
The Land Rover Defender EV will join the line-up as part of the model’s 2025 mid-life update, and our exclusive image previews how it could look
The Land Rover Defender is set to go fully electric within the next few years, Auto Express can reveal. The latest version of the popular 4x4 was only introduced in 2020, yet it’s likely that we’ll see fully electric versions of the 90, 110 and 130 arriving as part of a refreshed Defender line-up in 2025, with cars reaching customers in 2026.
The move is likely to mean a switch in platform tech, from the current D7 Premium Lightweight Architecture to Land Rover’s advanced new MLA Flex platform. MLA can support fully electric powertrains as well as internal combustion engines, and already underpins the firm’s new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, with all-electric versions of those cars due from 2024.
The switch in platform will come at a time when the Defender is due a mid-life refresh, but don’t expect huge alterations to the car’s look, despite the change in architecture. As with the Discovery Sport when it switched platforms to Land Rover’s Premium Transverse Architecture in 2019 (as part of a mid-life update) to allow for greater electrification, the look and dimensions of the Defender are expected to remain the same.
There may be some changes to the infotainment system inside, with a slightly larger screen, but the cabin design has been so well received by customers that it’s not expected to be altered too much. An increase in the use of sustainable materials is likely, though, as Land Rover looks to boost its credentials in this area.
The firm’s engineers are bullish about the prospect of its iconic 4x4 going electric and the benefits this will bring to its off-road performance. Greater control of the electric power delivery through software management is possible, along with advanced torque vectoring. Both will further boost the Defender’s serious off-roading ability, while a completely flat underside will deliver greater ground clearance, too.
Technical details of the Defender EV’s sister vehicle, the all-electric Range Rover due in 2024, have yet to be revealed, but Land Rover insiders suggest a battery of around 100kWh will fit easily within the MLA platform, and the aim will be for at least 300 miles of all-electric running.
We’re yet to see how Land Rover differentiates the look of its all-electric models from internal combustion-engined cars, but with less cooling needed, we’d expect the intakes on the ICE model to be blanked over for the electric version – as previewed by our exclusive Defender EV image. Rumours coming out of JLR suggest that this treatment could also be applied to the firm’s only current all-electric model, the Jaguar I-Pace, which is due for a refresh early in 2023.
The Land Rover Discovery – which shares its platform and production lines with the Defender – will also be going all-electric and moving upmarket, with former CEO Thierry Bolloré telling us, “We are completely reinventing Discovery. We believe there is a space for it, but we have to be creative.
“We need to make a real family car for the most discerning families. Discovery has to, and should, play this role that could disappear from the market otherwise – in the luxury segments at least. The Discovery will be that car.”
Although Bolloré has now left the company, with former CFO Adrian Mardell currently interim CEO, JLR’s Reimagine programme is still in full swing – including the full electrification of the Land Rover line-up by the end of the decade, as well as the reinvention of Jaguar into an all-electric luxury brand. JLR’s factories around the world are also being prepared for the next generation of battery-electric models.
In spite of calls from some quarters for Land Rover to expedite the arrival of all-electric models, the current management is in no mood to do so, given that the company has an order bank of more than 200,000 cars – mostly high-margin Range Rovers, Range Rover Sports and Defenders.
There is clearly demand for electrified JLR products from buyers, though. Currently, around 65 per cent of all models sold are electrified in some way, from mild-hybrids to plug-ins and the I-Pace full EV.
Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs on sale right now...