Jaguar Land Rover is one of the many automakers that have announced plans to gradually discontinue the combustion engine in the coming years. The Jaguar brand will axe the ol' ICE in 2025 when the British luxury marque will morph into an EV-only company. In the long run, the Tata Motors-owned firm will embrace zero emissions by 2036, with the ultimate goal being to become CO2 neutral across the supply chain, operations, and products by 2039.
Beyond traditional electric vehicles, JLR is also investing time and money into the development of fuel cell technology. To that end, it's currently working on a hydrogen Defender prototype programmed to commence road testing late this year in the UK. The research being conducted to create a zero-emissions version of the off-roader is part of the company's "Project Zeus" engineering project, which is partially funded by the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre.
Gallery: Land Rover Defender fuel cell prototype
Technical specifications have not been released, but the adjacent video shows a Defender with two high-pressure hydrogen tanks flanking a battery pack that supports the fuel cell and captures the energy generated during braking. The fuel cell is mounted where you'd normally find the combustion engine, along with an air intake that draws the air necessary to mix with hydrogen in the fuel cell.
Much like it's the case with the Toyota Mirai, the only emission that comes out of the exhaust is pure water resulted from the chemical reaction in the fuel cell. Land Rover says a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle has many benefits, including rapid refuelling and minimal loss of range in colder climates. Infrastructure is still a concern, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates there will be 10,000 hydrogen refuelling stations by the end of the decade.
As a reminder, Land Rover has already electrified the Defender in more ways than one. Aside from mild-hybrid powertrains, there's also a P400e model serving as a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine working together with an electric motor.
It has a combined output of nearly 400 bhp and 650 Newton-metres (479 pound-feet) of torque, good for a 0 to 60 mph run in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. It offers 27 miles (43 kilometres) of electric range courtesy of a 19.2-kWh battery.