British company Liberty Electric Cars has developed an all-electric Range Rover – which it says is the world’s first zero emissions 4×4.
Liberty Electric Cars is based in Oxford, and has been working on the project for the past two years – independent from and unendorsed by Land Rover. Having tested a prototype throughout June, the company says it is ready to bring its all-electric 4×4 technology to market, starting in the UK with an all-electric Range Rover.
Low running costs, 200-mile range
With energy storage provided by a lithium polymer battery pack, the E-Range is driven by four electric motors – one for each wheel – maintaining the vehicle’s four-wheel drive traction.
The new drivetrain, which avoids the need for any kind of mechanical connection between the wheels, gives the E-Range a 0-60mph time of under seven seconds, an 85mph top speed and a theoretical range of 200 miles. Highly impressive for an all-electric vehicle.
Regenerative braking makes the most of the battery, there will be a ‘range-extender’ option using a small combustion engine to provide more electricity, and charging can be done wirelessly, by simply parking the E-Range over an inductive plate. Similar to technology that is gradually making its way into mobile phones, this is another world first for an electric car.
The upshot is a full-size luxury family vehicle with running costs claimed to be 80% less than the petrol equivalent (3.92p per mile compared with 18.58 per mile), not to mention zero tailpipe emissions.
The battery is said to be lighter and more power-dense than other systems, with a 13-year or 300,000-mile lifespan. And the conversion has been managed without impeding the passenger space.
Liberty Electric Cars claims its technology is three years ahead of rival developments.
What price zero emissions?
With testing completed in Sunderland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne last month, Liberty Electric Cars is now entering the production phase, with plans to bring its all-electric Range Rover to market before the end of the year.
Depending on how well the technology works in practice, the major catch may well remain the price, which is expected to be between £150,000 and £160,000 per vehicle – almost twice the cost of a range-topping supercharged V8 Range Rover. This will fall as demand for the technology increases.
Plans to extend the technology to other large 4x4s and MPVs are already underway. Manufacturing will take place in Newcastle, with initial costs assisted by UK government sponsorship as part of a national plan to turn the North East into a centre of excellence for electric vehicle development.
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