Land Rover Defender 110 Becomes World's First EV SUV Retrofit to Use In-Wheel Motors

Land Rover Defender 110 EV retrofit 11 photos
Photo: Bedeo
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It's a curious thing, the transformation the automotive industry is currently going through. Not only did the electrification bug engulf almost the entire group of the planet's major carmakers, but it is now spreading to smaller players as well, including the ones that are in the business of restoring the cars, trucks, and SUVs made decades ago.
There are presently two major directions the custom industry is taking, mostly influenced by geography and local tastes. Over in America, custom garages stay true to their "there’s no replacement for displacement" creed, and don't seem very keen on swapping ICE powertrains for EV ones. Elsewhere, however, especially over in Europe, the place so many classics come from, quite the opposite happens.

Technically speaking it is a lot easier (at least in terms of the complexity of work performed) to replace a vehicle's powertrain with one that runs on electricity. And that's one of the main reasons why European garages go down this path. The other is the fact the locals seem more than happy to drive around in classic, and at the same time electric Rolls-Royces, Porsches, or Jaguars.

Most of these projects go down the usual path of such a conversion: they have their engine and transmission taken out, and replaced by a battery pack and motors that drive the axle(s). To date, as far as we know, no such retrofitted vehicle didn't go for in-wheel electric motors. Enter the Land Rover Defender put together by a British company called Bedeo, and the exception to the motor-on-the-axle rule.

Bedeo is a name probably few of you are familiar with. The company was founded in 2009 not in the UK, but over in Turkey, and it was initially in the business of making electric commercial vehicles and the technologies needed to power them. That last bit means the battery, drivetrain and operating system are all made in-house.

Land Rover Defender 110 EV retrofit
Photo: Bedeo
Since its birth, the company has grown to become a supplier to the French group PSA, which uses Bedeo's tech in some of its light commercial vehicles. In all, claims the company, the technology it makes has amassed some 37 million miles (60 million km) of use on European roads.

Feeling hyped about that, Bedeo decided to expand the scope of its business by entering the EV retrofit game. With that in mind it recently announced the launch of a program called Reborn Electric: Icons.

As the name hints, the effort is meant to use those in-house built electric drivetrains to give a new life to iconic vehicles from Europe's (and the world's) past. There is no set list of accepted vehicles in this program, which means you could probably ask Bedeo to work on pretty much any machine you can think or feel found of.

The program had to start somewhere, and it did this week with the first vehicle in the Reborn Electric: Icons, a Land Rover Defender 110 of an unspecified model year that was converted to run on electricity. In launching this model, Bedeo says it has become "the first company in the world to offer an electric retrofit package for classic cars using in-wheel motors."

On the surface, the Defender is the same one it originally was, and so it is at a slightly deeper level, meaning the curb weight and driving dynamics. Its inner hardware, on the other hand, has been completely replaced.

The Defender is now fully equipped with an electric drivetrain that comprises a 75 kW battery pack and electric motors inside each of the four wheels to give the vehicle the same abilities it had before.

Land Rover Defender 110 EV retrofit
Photo: Bedeo
The battery pack, despite its size, is only large enough to ensure a maximum driving range of 153 miles (247 km). Granted, that's not very much, compared to what some other EVs are capable of, but probably more than enough for what the Defender's owner expects from it. The battery needs twelve hours to recharge when using a seven kW AC charger, or just 90 minutes when an optional 50 kW DC one is used.

The electric motors driving each of the wheels are good for a combined troop of 483 horsepower. Torque levels have not been disclosed.

Bedeo does not say who the Land Rover Defender was made for, nor how much it cost to put together. It was probably expensive, not only because of the technology used but also because the Brits promised whoever turns to them to have their vehicles converted would be "active collaborators in the design process."

Bedeo says the electrified Land Rover Defender 110 is just the first in what it hopes will be a long list of such projects. Given how this crew doesn't limit itself to specific car makes, like others do, I'm quite hyped at the prospect of what may come next from these guys.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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