There's been a substantial surge in companies turning vintage, combustion-engine vehicles into battery-powered electric ones in recent years. And, frankly, we're thrilled about it. Now one of the companies turning classic Land Rovers into plug-in, go-anywhere four-wheelers has announced it's gone one step further by sticking a Tesla drivetrain in a classic Land Rover Defender. The best part, it'll repeat the trick for you, assuming you can afford it.
Special relationship — ECD Automotive Design has been restoring classic Defenders and Range Rovers for years. Now it's slid into bed with U.K.-based Electric Classic Cars (ECC), which specializes in converting classic cars into more sustainable, but no less exhilarating, electric beasts. The goal? Put Tesla drivetrains into vintage Land Rovers, while also offering customers the option to heavily customize the luxury interiors.
The first electric Defender in the U.S. is expected to roll out of ECD's facility in December 2020. To get there, it'll pass by ECD's 47 technicians and take more than 2,200 hours. ECD currently creates around 60 custom Defenders annually, but this is the first time buyers will have the option to use Tesla's drivetrain. With Tesla currently the most valuable automaker in the world, that's not just a badge of honor, but also a guarantee that maintenance or parts won't be problems anytime soon.
More than just a conversion — Nobody buys a Defender for its aerodynamics or speed off the line. Nonetheless, ECD's Defenders offer 450 bhp for a 0-60 mph time of under five seconds. If that's not fast enough, there's also a 600 bhp option that'll cut that time to the three-second range. Because it's a direct drive, there are no gears to worry about, you simply floor it and enjoy the padding of the seats as you're pushed into them. ECD says the 100 kWh battery is good for an estimated 220 miles. That's poor for a Tesla, but respectable for a Land Rover masquerading as one.
But don't think that you need to give up any of the off-roading abilities of a regular Defender. ECD guarantees its electric iterations will still offer superlative off-road capabilities. To this end, it includes downhill assist and traction control, anti-lock braking, regenerative braking, along with a fully upgraded driveline to cope with the power that comes from using electric motors.
Pay to play — If you've gotten this far and expected to hear this sort of luxury, customization, and eco-consciousness is going to come cheap, we'd like to suggest you take a long, hard look in the mirror... and read our story on Zero Labs' Landy conversions. Custom conversions — whether they're Land Rovers, Porches, or Jaguars — tend to cost north of $200k.
ECD hasn't announced how much its electric Defender will cost, but given its cheapest electrified Defender D90 is $169,995, and its most expensive Defender Signature D130 retails for $259,995, you're likely safe assuming a figure somewhere in the middle. If that sounds like a lot you should probably hold off on the napa leather or other customizations. Or, you know, buy something else, like a Cybertruck or a Ford Bronco.