The Classic-Style Land Rover Defender Is Going Electric in the US
If you thought there was no possible way the old Land Rover Defenders could possibly get more expensive to buy now that '90s Defenders are freely importable, one company has found a way. U.K.-based Land Rover specialist Twisted plans to offer a small batch of the 1990s-style Land Rover Defenders stateside, but with a twist: They will be electric.
Sound appropriately twisted?
The older Defender slowly drifting into the 25-year import window should (in theory) satisfy the still-raging demand for the British workhorse. Twisted's is called the NAS-E. The company bought up dozens of the last Defenders produced in the U.K., where production ended a couple of years ago, and is plugging an electric drivetrain into the beasts.
The result is a Land Rover Defender with a single electric motor powering the SUV's existing 4x4 innards. The NAS-E will be offered in two states of tune: 214 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque or 320 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. The most impressive figure, we suspect, could be the 0-60 launch time, because the old gas-engined Defenders were not exactly rockets off the line.
Those concerned about range should rest easy: Twisted promises "200-plus" miles of range, but it hasn't specified whether that's in the WLTP cycle or the little more conservative EPA cycle. Either way, the Defenders will pack a 60-kWh battery underneath the body. That's not the biggest battery on the market today by any stretch, but keep in mind the Defender wasn't built with EV batteries in mind. The electric Defenders feature leather seats, air conditioning, a touchscreen EV control system, a three-person bench seat up front and four more inward-facing bench seats in the back for a total of seven seats. Yes, these are two-door seven-seaters.AdChoices
Perhaps the most impressive part of the process is that the conversion time is only two weeks, and it's done here in Virginia using Defenders imported from the U.K. The trucks will be offered as "reconstructed vehicles," bypassing the otherwise-impossible federalization process.
Twisted plans to convert just 30 Defenders, all the shorter-wheelbase 90 with a soft top, available in Yosemite green, Tahoe blue or Malibu yellow.
But they won't be cheap: Twisted says the base version goes for $185,000 while the more powerful one will set buyers back $210,000.
The donor Rover accounts for about $60,000 of that, if not more, so the EV conversion itself, labor included, adds about $120,000 to the total price. We're not sure if this makes the price easier to swallow or more difficult, but we suspect such a purchase is not one that can be rationalized like a normal car purchase. And since a lot of imported Defender 90s are essentially toys in tony beach resort towns on the East Coast, logic or utility considerations aren't really a factor.
Indeed, just what kind of audience will shell out close to $200,000 for an electric, old-style Defender that's actually brand new remains to be seen, but it's probably not the hardcore off-road kind.
And if you're in the market for a gas- or diesel-engined vintage Defender with a much lower price, Twisted can help you there, too: The Land Rover specialist has been tuning Defenders for years.
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