Should These Military Land Rovers Go Electric?
UK electric conversion specialist Electrogenic has partnered with defense contractor Babcock International to study an EV conversion program for the UK's Ministry of Defense.
As part of the program, the two companies will convert four Defenders, two of them armored, to electric power with Electrogenic's conversions kits.
The UK's Armored Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) will then test the Defenders in a series of military scenarios.
Military Land Rovers might not seem like the most suitable starting points for electric conversions, but that's just what specialist Electrogenic has undertaken for the British army. The UK-based EV conversion specialist has partnered with defense contractor Babcock International to convert four military Land Rovers, already in service, to electric power. Two of the Land Rovers will be open vehicles, and two will be armored versions.
The goal of the project is the help the UK's Ministry of Defense evaluate the advantages and constraints of electric power in vehicles of this size and application. The completed vehicles will then be tested by the Armored Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) in a series of military scenarios, with the Unit judging their performance in several scenarios including towing, travel over steep terrain, and wading through water hazards.
"Mobility performance, exportable power, signature and cost reduction are just some of the considerations we will explore while partnering with Electrogenic and Babcock," said Corporal Bryan Munce, from the Armored Trials and Development Unit at MOD Bovington. "In understanding what could enable our forces, it also informs MOD of potential threats to be cognizant of, to enhance our strategic approach."
Electrogenic already offers a conversion kit for the Defender that keeps the transfer case, and in place of the engine adds a 150-kW electric motor and a battery as large as a 93-kWh unit.
Smaller conversion kits from the company pair a 52-kWh battery that fits underhood with an electric motor producing 120 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, good for 100 miles of range. Such a conversion kit costs $29,500 and is meant to offer private Defender owners a relatively easy way to swap their workhorses to electric power, rather than seeking to maximize range and horsepower in a money-no-object approach.
"The drop-in conversion kit has been built down to a price. We have achieved our objective of a pay-back of 4 years or less for average farm use," the company says of its lower-cost kits aimed at Defenders in agricultural use.
It remains to be seen just which conversion kits will make the most sense for the country's Ministry of Defense, but it is worth noting that military-spec Defenders usually rely on relatively modest diesel engines, rather than the high-performance V8s that stateside Defenders offered in the 1990s.
Electrogenic won't be seeking to replicate that particular kind of performance, but it will be curious to see just which configuration could make sense for armored and unarmored versions of the Defender.
Will we see some US military vehicles go electric in this decade, or are these powertrains not well suited for military duty? Let us know what you think.