A Hydrogen Powered Defender by 2022?

With all of the freshly revealed models and concepts it seems like the electric off-road vehicle is the wave of the future. However, this week Jaguar Land Rover announced that they are developing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the new Defender. Dubbed “Project Zeus”, this prototype program aims to have a working hydrogen-powered Defender by the end of this year.


Photo: Jaguar Land Rover

Photo: Jaguar Land Rover

Externally the prototype will look like the current Defender, but under the hood a hydrogen fuel cell will produce the electricity that powers the SUV. It will be one of the first steps towards the company’s goal to only produce zero-tailpipe emissions vehicles by 2036, and more so help them move towards their goal of net zero carbon emissions across supply chain, products, and operations by 2039.


READ MORE: DOES THE NEW DEFENDER 110 HOLD UP TO THE LEGACY OF THE ORIGINAL?


Jaguar Land Rover isn’t undertaking this project alone. “Project Zeus” partners include engineering consultancy Delta Motorsport, engineering firm AVL, automotive supplier Marelli Automotive Systems, and the UK Battery Industrialization Center. Hopefully this partnership will help JLR get ahead of the United Kingdom ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles that is currently slated for 2030.

JLR has stated that the design will be capable and dependable enough to fulfill the duties of an off-road vehicle. We’re very curious to see the outcome of the testing that is planned for late 2021.


Photo: Nick Jaynes

Photo: Nick Jaynes

It’s difficult to compare electric vehicles with the hydrogen-powered alternatives. Currently, the grand total of hydrogen vehicles available for purchase around the world is limited to three models. Combined with the fact that electric and electric-gasoline hybrids are just starting to infiltrate the truck market and you find yourself beyond speculation. Currently electric vehicle infrastructure far outpaces hydrogen, and some automotive companies have already publicly abandoned any future plans to develop their own hydrogen models. That being said, if JLR and their partners successfully build this Defender it will be interesting to see if they pursue this technology further.


Header Image: Jaguar Land Rover

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