Classic off-road SUVs like the Land Rover Defender may have honest, rough-and-tumble capability, but they’re neither efficient nor fast. Luckily, it’s now easier than ever to swap out that old diesel or gasoline engine for an electric powertrain. In fact, several restomod shops now offer electric conversion options for their builds. UK-based Twisted Automotive, though, is going one step further, and building an electric Defender specifically for the US.
Twisted Automotive’s electric Land Rover Defender
Twisted Automotive has been in the Land Rover Defender restomod business since 2001, GQ reports. In fact, the shop even bought 240 Defenders right before Land Rover canceled the original SUV, Autoblog reports.
Up until now, Twisted’s builds either retained their original diesel engines or received gasoline V8s, Autoblog reports. US models previously only came with V8s, in 455-hp and 650-hp form.
However, that changes with Twisted’s Land Rover Defender NAS-E, Car and Driver reports. Instead of an internal-combustion engine, the NAS-E has an electric motor, which hooks directly to the Defender’s four-wheel-drive system. There’s no transmission per se, though the SUV still has high- and low-range gearing. Think of it as the ‘gear selector’ on a Rokon motorcycle. In addition, the SUVs receive upgraded brakes and suspension, as well as new wheels and a full roll cage.
Twisted is offering its electric Land Rover Defender in 2 trims. The ‘base’ model’s motor delivers 214 hp and 280 lb-ft, while the Plus model makes 320 hp and 339 lb-ft. Both versions come with 60.0-kWh battery packs, which Twisted claims are good for up to 200 miles of range. However, according to Robb Report, the electric SUV hasn’t been EPA-tested as of this writing.
And to kick off not only its electric Land Rover Defender but US-based production, Twisted has released 3 limited-edition ‘California’ models, Autoweek reports. Only 30 will be made, all based on 2-door soft-top Defender 90s. Each comes with A/C, leather upholstery, touchscreen infotainment, and can seat up to 7 people. The Plus adds bull bars and windshield rail spotlights. And there are 3 US-themed paint colors available: Yosemite Green, Malibu Yellow, and Tahoe Blue.
Pricing and availability
Twisted sources the Land Rover Defenders for the NAS-E conversion. But even so, getting one won’t be cheap. The base model starts at $185k, and the Plus starts at $215k.
But, if you miss out on the California models, Twisted can likely still give your own personal Defender the electric powertrain. However, that too will likely be expensive. A NAS (‘North American Specification’) Land Rover Defender typically goes for $40,000-$60,000 on Bring a Trailer. And a low-mileage example can go for closer to $100,000.
The Twisted electric Land Rover Defender vs. the competition
Twisted’s other Land Rover Defenders aren’t any cheaper, either. A base NAS-V8 build, which includes more suspension travel, larger brakes, modern amenities, and upgraded differentials, starts at $250k. However, unlike the NAS-E, it can be ordered in 4-door 110 form, and even as a double-cab pickup.
However, it’s likely Twisted’s electric Land Rover Defender is cheaper than ECD’s Tesla-powered models. Only available in 110-trim, ECD’s Defender EVs use Tesla 100-kWh powertrains, Motor1 reports, which give them a claimed 220-mile range. Not to mention a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds, a significant improvement compared to the original 185-hp 4.0-liter V8’s performance. Pricing, though, is firmly in the ‘if you have to ask’ range.
But, if you want an electric SUV with modern features and old-school style, there is the Bollinger B1. Unlike the NAS-E, it doesn’t have infotainment—not even a radio. However, it does have 15” of ground clearance, removable doors and roof, and AWD with a 2-speed transfer case. Plus, with dual electric motors delivering 614 hp and 668 lb-ft, it’s more powerful than the NAS-E. But it still delivers a claimed 200 miles of range and starts at $125,000.
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