Coventry’s Advance Propulsion Centre’s hydrogen fuel cell project to feature in Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender

An Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) funded project to develop a zero-emission SUV has taken another major step forward today as Jaguar Land Rover announced the development of a prototype Land Rover Defender using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The FCEV concept is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036, and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039.

FCEVs, which generate electricity from hydrogen to power an electric motor, are complimentary to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on the journey to net zero vehicle emissions. Hydrogen-powered FCEVs provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making the technology ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

Project ZEUS, a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover, Marelli Automotive Systems, Delta Motorsport, AVL UK and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), was awarded £8.7 million funding in 2020 to develop a zero-emission premium fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) SUV concept.

The project is targeting the development of a prototype Defender FCEV that intends to begin testing towards the end of 2021 in the UK to verify key attributes such as range, refuelling, towing and off-road ability.

Jon Beasley, Coventry-based APC Business Development and Programmes  Director, said: “If the UK is to succeed in creating a net-zero automotive landscape by 2050 then we are going to need a diverse portfolio of technology to meet the varying needs and purposes of the vehicles we drive

“The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle and has always had to perform a range of roles in different environments. Hydrogen fuel cell technology provides alternative solutions  to many of the challenges associated with battery electric vehicles, such as range, quick refuelling needs and access to charging infrastructure.

“Successful testing will provide a real understanding of the opportunities for the growth of FCEV production in the UK as we transition away from traditional internal combustion engines, which will in turn sustain or create jobs not only for vehicle production but also the supporting supply chain.”

ZEUS project is one of 19 hydrogen projects currently being funded by the APC with a combined investment of just under £70m.

The project set out to develop a FCEV  with a class-leading high-performance battery, cooling system and control strategy, with all members of the consortium collaborating and adding their expertise to the project.

Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles. The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”