|This model was given to the premier reserve Londolozi to test. It came through with flying colours.|
Quiet like a lion sneaking up on prey, Landrover’s new electric 4x4 concept vehicle is made for the African Bush. The company saw a place for a vehicle that’s both better for the environment and better on safari. Designed from the ground-up as a safari vehicle, it is quieter, more sustainable and more powerful than the normal diesel-driven landrover. Using no smelly fuel or dripping dirty engines, the 4x4 resembles its legendary namesake in form only. Under the hood this is a vehicle of the future.
Sitting next to the front of the car in the last light of day, the Direct Sales Manager for Jaguar-Land Rover South Africa Jean-Pierre Joubert explains how the vehicle works. “It has a lithium phosphate battery, a sealed electric motor, and an inverter that basically is the brain between the motor and the battery.”
The concept has been well received in South Africa, where its range, economy, power and, most of all, silence has attracted the interest of high-end safari companies.
“why is it so in demand?” asks Joubert, “because It gets you a lot closer to the animals and basically gives you an incredible game viewing experience which you would not experience with the likes of a diesel or a petrol engine because of the sound.”
59 kilowatts of power suffice to get tourists out of the way if an elephant charges. It whispers driving up hills, and its sixty mile range allows long game drives at low speeds.
It gives safari companies the ability to creep along slowly and silently over obstacles, which a normal vehicle struggles to do.
The truck charges on a regular power outlet in about six hours. In Africa fuel costs are more than triple the US, so the vehicle’s purchase price can be recouped in three years of daily safari driving. And its battery is fully recyclable, making it even more earth friendly.
Joubert and his team are excited by the surge of interest. “The reception we have had, and the call to get this type of product into production very very quickly has been quite overwhelming and very encouraging”.
Landrover expects to finish testing the prototype and start full production in 2013. Already the long list of eager customers seems to ensure it’s future success. Game drives may never be the same again.
Jeffrey Barbee, Johannesburg South Africa.
|The vehicles are assembled in the UK and tested in South Africa.|