Jaguar Land Rover will develop a hydrogen-powered prototype of its iconic Defender SUV as the carmaker works toward cutting tailpipe emissions to zero by 2036.
The fuel-cell Defender will be partly funded by the U.K. government and testing will start at the end of this year, Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement. Rapid refueling times is making hydrogen, which only emits water, ideal for larger vehicles with longer driving ranges, the carmaker said.
In February, the U.K.’s biggest carmaker laid out plans to electrify its lineup under new chief executive officer Thierry Bollore, with the Jaguar brand quitting sales of combustion-engine cars completely just four years from now. Automakers from Europe’s biggest manufacturer Volkswagen AG to Jaguar’s smaller rival Lotus Cars are accelerating plans for EV rollouts to keep pace with tightening emissions regulation. The U.K. plans to ban sales of cars that run entirely on combustion engines from 2030.
Hydrogen fuel cells were long in the running as an alternative to battery-powered cars because the technology enables fast refueling and long ranges — two issues electric cars still face. But some automakers have scrapped plans for hydrogen models because of the high costs and limited refueling infrastructure.
JLR had previously said it will introduce six fully electric Land Rover variants in the next five years. By 2030, it expects all of its Jaguar models and 60% of Land Rovers sold to be zero-emissions vehicles.