E.C.D. Automotive is a Florida-based firm that turns old, sometimes damaged Land Rovers into bespoke, six-figure luxury vehicles. E.C.D. primarily builds customised classic Defenders, each taking around 2200 working hours to transform the cars from the ground up.
E.C.D. mainly used to plop in LS crate engines, but it recently began tinkering with Tesla motors and batteries. While the majority of its conversions use internal combustion engines, E.C.D. co-founder Scott Wallace notes that clients are becoming more interested in its electric powertrains due to the instant torque, easier to navigate emissions regulations, and most importantly, the lack of necessary maintenance.
How they're built
To begin building the electric Land Rovers at E.C.D., they first contact their counterparts in Britain, who acquire the trucks, which are typically heavily-used farm vehicles. Due to U.S. import laws, any vehicle brought in must be at least 25 years old, so 1996 is the latest model year they are currently allowed to work on.
After receiving the vehicles at the port, they are delivered to E.C.D.'s facility, where a team of technicians removes everything, leaving just the bare frame. From there, the techs refurbish the frame and mend any imperfections.
After restoring the frame, the truck is essentially built from the ground up as an entirely new vehicle. Almost nothing is carried over from the donor vehicle, so everything ranging from the wiring to the brake callipers is new. Before putting on the new body panels and an entirely updated interior, first comes the powertrain.
On the EV side
The logistics of putting an EV battery pack and motors on a 25-year-old ICE platform would be extremely difficult, so they needed to acquire batteries that would fit in its Land Rovers.
E.C.D. eventually partnered with Electric Classic Cars (ECC), a British company specialising in developing battery packs made specifically for EV conversions.
The selected size was 100 kWh, and they are made with Tesla cells. To fit the batteries in the SUV, ECC split the pack in two at a 60:40 ratio. The front 60 kWh pack resides in the engine bay, and the rear 40 kWh one sits above the rear axle. Both packs are liquid-cooled, which is a must because many owners live in warmer locations. Depending on which model of Defender, its range will be somewhere in the area of 200 miles.
A 450 bhp motor is mounted where the transmission tunnel is an ICE variant. Zero to sixty takes just 5 seconds, a far cry from the original's above 10-second run. The mounting locations allow for an AWD system without having a dual-motor setup. Unlike having a motor placed between the wheels, there is far less insulation, allowing drivers (and passersby) to hear more motor whine.
While the electric Defender I checked out came in at over $200,000 (approx. £150,000), Wallace says that his vehicles are not supposed to compete with Teslas or mainstream luxury SUVs, for that matter. According to E.C.D., they're backed up with orders for an entire year, and produce around one vehicle every five days.
The firm only sees around 20% of its buyers currently opting for its electric powertrain. But Wallace expects that number to only proliferate in the coming years once they open their new facility and begin their next project: an electric Jaguar E-Type.