Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing a fuel cell-powered prototype of the Land Rover Defender, which is due to start testing in the UK later this year. The H2 off-road vehicle is being created as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s research and development into future technologies.
The development project represents one aspect of the company’s new ‘Reimagine’ strategy, which CEO Thierry Bolloré presented in February and in the course of which he announced that Jaguar would become an all-electric car brand from 2025. The former Renault manager had taken over the chief executive post at JLR from Ralph Speth in September 2020.
Jaguar Land Rover had announced less than a year ago that it was working with partners on the UK government-funded ‘Zeus’ project to develop future technologies in general and fuel cell versions of its larger vehicles in particular. ‘Zeus‘ is co-funded by the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre. The project aims to provide engineers and developers with new and deeper insights into how hydrogen propulsion can be optimised.
The prototype H2 Defender is due to begin testing in the UK towards the end of the year. According to JLR, the tests will focus on aspects such as off-road characteristics and fuel consumption. For the research, development and production of the fuel cell prototype, the British company is enlisting the help of several partners, including Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).
“We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world-class line-up of vehicles,” expresses Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology at Jaguar Land Rover. Alongside battery-electric models, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles offer another zero-emission solution to the unique capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced model range. “The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net-zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicle.”
In February, JLR had already announced that a purely electric variant would be available for all model series by the end of the decade. At Jaguar, 100 per cent of sales will then be locally emission-free (logical in view of the e-targets for 2025), at Land Rover the company states 60 per cent as a target. In concrete terms, Land Rover is aiming to bring six purely electrically powered models to market in the next five years, the first of which will be in 2024.
Under Thierry Bolloré, JLR wants to invest 2.8 billion euros annually in electrification and the development of connected services. At the same time, the company already made public at the presentation of its new strategy that it wants to develop not only battery-electric drives, but also fuel cell drives – “in order to be prepared for future demand”.
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