Land Rover is one of the many brands that announced they will be bidding farewell to the internal combustion engine in the coming years. By 2036, the automaker plans to achieve zero tailpipe emissions in line with the brand's Reimagine strategy announced last month together with Jaguar.
While Jaguar will transition into a pure EV brand by 2025, it seems traditional battery electric vehicles aren't the only way to go for Land Rover. The Britsh marque announced that they will develop a prototype Defender powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. Better yet, road testing of the zero-emission off-roader will begin later this year.
The development behind Land Rover's FCEV Defender is part of the company's Project Zeus engineering project. The prototype vehicle will allow engineers to study how hydrogen power can be utilized to deliver optimal performance and capability. In the case of the Defender, it should also be capable of towing and still be capable off-road.
Specific technical details about the prototype FCEV Defender have yet to be released. Land Rover did show how the system works. Two high-pressure hydrogen tanks flank a battery pack that supports the fuel cell and captures the energy generated during braking. The fuel cell is located where you'd normally find the engine. An air intake then draws air mixing it with the hydrogen. The result? Zero emissions and only pure water come out of the tailpipe.
Land Rover says a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has several advantages over traditional EVs, including faster refueling and minimal range loss in colder climates. With that, the automaker suggests FCEVs are ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, especially those operated in hot or cold environments. However, there is still a lack of hydrogen infrastructure around the world. Fortunately, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates there will be 10,000 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of the decade.
At the moment, we're not sure whether Land Rover will only use the hydrogen-powered prototype Defender as a testbed for future products. It's also possible they will produce a Defender FCEV, but we'll guess purists won't be too happy to hear about a hydrogen-powered Defender.