Converting a Land Rover Defender to Electric

Since 1948, Land Rovers have formed part of British heritage and agriculture. As a result, they are a true icon. Now with high fuel prices and sustainability being hot topics, it’s more important than ever to keep classic Land Rovers running efficiently – this can be done with an EV conversion.

EV conversions have been around for a couple of years now, meaning prices are lowering and it is not just the rich, famous or royalty who can afford them. With specialist companies such as us at Electric Car Converts catering to all Land Rover EV conversions, it is now possible to convert classic Series and Defender models.

In this guide we run through how the conversion works and the laws behind Land Rover EV Conversions.

Can you convert a Land Rover Defender/Series to electric?

With the help of bespoke off the shelf components, it is definitely possible to convert a Land Rover Defender/Series to electric, in fact it’s one of the best cars to get converted. It can be done in a number of ways: the first is by swapping in an electric motor into the place of the diesel engine and turning the original gearbox, transfer box and therefore drivetrain. The other way to do it is to put a reclaimed Tesla drive unit in the middle of the car and have it drive the front and back wheels without the need for any of the original running gear.

Then you need to convert other parts of the car which used to run off the engine, to now run off a high voltage battery pack. For example, an electric brake vacuum pump replaces the vacuum created by the air intake, a high-voltage heater element replaces the water heated cabin heater and a DCDC converter has to act as an alternator, charging up the original 12v system which is left in the car.

Electric Vehicle Conversion Registration:

An electric vehicle conversion is legal in the UK, providing it is carried out according to strict guidelines and therefore passes the safety tests set out by the DVLA. You need to re-register your Land Rover to get it classed as fuel type: Electric on it’s V5C document. This is done with a whole load of paperwork and an inspection by a DVLA appointed mechanic. You can then insure your vehicle as electric with specialist insurers such as Adrian Flux, Haggerty and Footman James. From here, if necessary (younger than 40 years old) you can get an MOT as an electric vehicle, which are much easier to pass as there are no emissions tests on EV conversions! This paperwork and admin is very time consuming and the DVLA isn’t always the quickest in getting it processed. There are various ways to expedite the process, and Electric Car Converts will handle the whole process for you.

How much does the conversion cost?

An EV Defender conversion starts at £28,000 but can increase up to £55,000 (Electric Car Converts pricing, 2022) depending on the size of battery pack, type of motor, charging speed and the accessories available to add. The majority of this cost comes from the expensive parts, namely the motor, inverter, charger, battery management systems and the battery pack. Due to this, an electric vehicle conversion kit, where you carry out the work yourself at home is not much cheaper. If you go down the EV conversion kit route you will also have to pay for specialist welding, fabrication, wiring, CNC machining amongst other things, making it worth getting a professional EV conversion workshop to do it for you.

Electric Motors for Land Rover Defender/Series Conversions:

There are several Electric Motors out there for EV conversions. It ultimately depends on the power required and type of Land Rover you are converting. Here are the two main Electric Motors used in EV conversions for Land Rovers:

Netgain Hyper9

The Hyper9 is a specialist American electric motor designed specifically with electric conversions in mind. It runs at 100-160 volts (depending on which version) and can generate 120 horsepower and 260Nm of torque. This is ideal for all of the Land Rover Series models as well as the Defender 90 and the Defender 110 – as long as you are happy with power that is about twice that of the original diesels. It has to be connected to the original gearbox of the Land Rover using a specialist adapter plate, which is machined within a 1000th of an inch of accuracy, and will use the original flywheel, clutch and clutch plate.

Tesla Model 3 Motor

An existing Tesla motor can be taken from a donor vehicle which is low mileage and involved in a minor accident. These motors then are modified in their gearing and have their inverter changed so that they are able to be used in EV conversions. Tesla motors are extremely compact, efficient and most importantly powerful. At 300 horsepower, the Tesla Model 3 motor can be put in an electric Land Rover, making it accelerate from 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds. These are mounted longitudinally in the middle of a Land Rover and will put power directly to both the front and rear differentials, meaning that they are still 4wd. Due to mounting the motor in the middle of the car, the entire engine bay is then available to be used for the battery pack, which can therefore be bigger, which it has to be to keep up with the voltage demands of a Tesla Model 3 motor. This motor works great for people who want their electric Land Rover Defender/Series to be faster than most of the cars on the road!

Electric Land Rover for Sale

If you do not have a Land Rover to convert, then we are here to help with your upcoming electric car conversion and potential purchase. We have a limited inventory of electric Land Rover models that have recently been converted by our specialist team for sale.

Alternatively, we are able to source a car for you, and then convert it. This means you can have it in any style and colour you like. Workshop build slots are very limited due to the high demand for EV conversions but enquire with the team today to find out when you can have one delivered by.

Currently for sale

A 1975 Series III

Named Evie, this fully electrified open top example shows what we’re all about. With its upgraded interior, installed with a high attention to detail, we match closely to the original classic design. The series 3 now drives smoothly with 120 horsepower too, achieving up to 70 miles of range with an exceptionally reliable Tesla battery pack. The original fuel filler is replaced with the EV charger inlet – making charging familiar either at home or public charging stations.

A 1985 Defender 90

Repainted in 2021 for that ultimate refresh, this recent electrified edition also has 70miles of range coming from the 120horsepower motor. Capable of towing and taking you where no Defender has been before – thanks to its powertrain that utilises the original gearbox.

Advantages of converting Classics to EV’s

There are a range of benefits of converting your Land Rover to EV. Along with having a truly unique vehicle only a handful of owners get to experience, EVs are:

Great for the environment

As the old engine is removed and replaced with a zero-emission motor, you are helping the environment. Classic cars are also not sent to the scrap yard if the engine packs up and you cannot find a replacement. There is now an alternative option for owners.

Keeps Classics on the Road for Longer

Classic cars often break down, are very difficult to find parts for, and expensive to repair. With a Land Rover EV conversion, reliability is improved tenfold. This enables you as an enthusiast to drive them on and off-road to your hearts content. Allowing passers-by to witness a rare classic car. It’s important to keep the heritage going for the car industry, maintaining a historical record of classic motor vehicles and taking them to shows and events.

Also, when converting to EV, one less vehicle is produced in a factory. You help emit much less CO2 by keeping a Land Rover on the road for longer.

Easier to Maintain

With an EV conversion, unreliable components such as engines, electrical systems, brakes, and more are all removed and upgraded. With electric motors only having one moving part, it is much less likely to go wrong than a Land Rovers original powerplant.

Low Running Costs

As a result of EV conversion, your car now runs off electricity. Meaning you can charge it the way you want to! Free charging points are available in some supermarkets, workplaces, hotels and more. Or you can choose to charge at home, at a fraction of the cost of petrol or diesel.

Servicing an EV conversion involves not much more than a few electrical tests and topping up the washer fluid. As they are known to have much less component wear (On brake pads for example) and do not require oil changes – you save on servicing costs as an owner.

Add Modern Features

With several battery packs and modern electric motors, you can spec your Land Rover to have modern features that takes it into the 21st century. Electronic power steering, smartphone integration and infotainment screens, modern heaters, parking cameras and more can be equipped during the conversion process. Making your driving experience much easier and turning your Land Rover into a true daily driver.