'Lectric Landy for quiet game drives
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Land Rover SA has gone green in more ways than one with this concept - a battery-powered game viewer, combining the Defender's proven off-road ability with an innovative all-electric drive system - thus making it a truly “green” vehicle with zero exhaust emissions.
This all-South African project has been developed by local Land Rover specialist Barker Performance Products, with technical support from Land Rover's development specialists, and it's making its official debut - appropriately - at Indaba 2011, one of Africa's largest tourism events, on in Durban from May 7-10.
Kevin Flynn, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover for Sub-Saharan Africa, explained: “The all-electric game viewer concept has zero tailpipe emissions, thus offering a clean and silent operation, and reduces the impact on the highly sensitive environment in which these vehicles operate.”
The battery-powered Defender concept came about in response to a request from Londolozi, one of South Africa's top game parks, for an ecologically-sensitive vehicle with dependable off-road abilities.
Axeon, Europe's leading independent manufacturer of battery systems, came up with the 'Lectric Landy's innovative 300V, 27 kW-hour, air-cooled lithium-ion battery pack.
That drives a 59kW, air-cooled AC induction motor with a regenerative capacity of 10 kW and 330Nm of instantaneous torque complementing the Defender's permanent four-wheel drive system with differential lock - and the whole system has been shoe-horned into the standard engine bay so as not to compromise the Defender's ground clearance, wading depth and extended seating capacity.
In real-world conditions, Land Rover says the battery Defender is good for 80km with a 20km get-you-home reserve; most game drives average about 10km/h so that's about eight hours of bush-bashing, about times the average range of a typical outing.
It's recharged by a built-in, single-phase charger that plugs into a 220V domestic power supply - or from a specially-developed solar charging unit, which takes a little longer but makes it totally emissions-free.
But it still carries a Land Rover badge, so it has to meet the same off-road performance standards as any other Defender. The Barker team took it to the Gerotek Vehicle Testing facility near Pretoria, where instructors from the Land Rover Experience - who'd had nothing to do with the project till then - put it through the wringer as they would any other beetle-crusher.
Not only did it pass the tests with flying colours, its near-silent operation made it possible to get closer to the animals on real-life game drives than with conventional vehicles - which, say Londolozi staff, is why they asked for it in.