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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Building A Tesla-Powered Range Rover And Ultimate Overland Vehicle

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A vintage Range Rover that has its guts torn out and replaced with a Tesla
direct drivetrain and a Toyota 4Runner kitted out to create the “ultimate overland vehicle,” are two projects opening up myriad creative opportunities for conversion teams. One is just weeks from delivery, the other, months from completion.

1995 Range Rover Goes Electric

When last we caught up with the Kissimmee, Fla.-based E.C.D. Automotive design team it was in the process of installing a Tesla electric powertrain in a Land Rover Defender. The company that specializes in customizing vintage Land Rover vehicles has now completed a similar metamorphosis on a 1995 Range Rover for a Los Angeles-based client.

The Tesla motor is packaged with a 100-kWh battery pack and can drive an estimated 220 miles on a five-hour charge, while reaching 0-60 mph in an impressive 5.2 seconds, according to the company.

E.C.D. Co-founder Elliot Humble told Forbes.com the motor is basically taken from a Tesla Model S. It’s compact and powerful and mounts almost exactly where the Land Rover transfer case used to be making the conversion that much easier.

A key consideration was how the Tesla motor could be integrated into the vehicle so it doesn’t appear to be an add-on, or look out of place.

“We’ve seen a lot of electric conversions in a lot of companies’ vehicles where they tend to have electric motors in the front where the engine was,” said Humble. “They’ll still have a transmission, they’ll still have a transfer case, you can put the car in first gear or whatever you want and just drive. We didn’t want that. We wanted it to feel like it was factory and it should be there.”

Aside from installing the Tesla drivetrain, the E.C.D. Team updated many of the Range Rover’s outdated and worn out features such as what Humble described as “cheap aftermarket lights” and an interior that was “pretty dire.”

Specifically, the vehicle received an Alpine White exterior finish to contrast with its black grille and complementing silver metal front and rear bumpers. It all rides on 18-inch Land Rover Boost 5 Spoke wheels and Continental Cross Contact Tires.

Inside, the ’95 Range Rover was updated with tan leather seating, a dark wood finish on the dash and custom vertical diamond stitching throughout. Technology enhancements included high performance regenerative breaking, state of the art Infinity speakers and subwoofers, Alpine Halo 9 system with Carplay, back-up cameras and Bluetooth.

All the features were chosen by the client, whose identity the company chose not to reveal. Where the design and build were once conducted through renderings, E.C.D. Co-founder Scott Wallace explained those processes have now been greatly expedited.

“Each client designs in real time on a portal on a 3D design server,” said Wallace. “We put the software on your telephone or tablet or PC. We literally design a 3D interior and 3D exterior in real time. It’s fluid with the designer. They speak with the designer and can change anything. Now they can do it in real time.”

Thinking of having E.C.D convert a classic Land Rover? Customizations run from around $195,000 to “north of $250,000,” according to Wallace.

The Ultimate Overland Vehicle

The quest to convert a 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road from stock to ultimate is a multi-team effort that’s not expected to be complete until August. Leading the way is the Overland Expo, which bills itself as the “world’s premier event series for do-it-yourself adventure travel enthusiasts. The event hosts hundreds of session-hours of classes for 4-wheel-drive and adventure motorcycling, inspirational programs, a film festival and hundreds of vendors of all sorts of vehicles, bikes and equipment.

The Overland Expo staff is partnering with Toyota Motor North America on the project.

“There’s no doubt an overlander could drive a Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road off the showroom floor and confidently complete a backcountry journey. However, modifications — like those we have planned — both personalize as well as enhance the vehicle, enabling overlanders to travel further, longer, and more comfortably,” said Lodestone Events Marketing and Communications VP Jessica Kirchner in a statement.

The list of modifications and gear going in the 4Runner covers almost every capability necessary to create what might be considered the “ultimate” overland vehicle.

Among the features:

  • KC|Adventure Future light kit that includes a Pro6 Infinity Ring™ System, Flex Era ditch lights, front bumper lights with amber covers, rear bumper three-inch 12W C-SERIES C3 LED lights, two-inch, C-SERIES C2 LED side lights and Cyclone accessory lights.
  • Voyager 8303 dark bronze wheels by Mayhem
  • Westin Outlaw Nerf Step Bars
  • Dometic CFX3 55IM powered cooler
  • ARB Safari Snorkel
  • Alu-Cab Expedition Gen 3.1 Rooftop tent
  • Solar panels
  • Garmin

The finished Ultimate Overland Vehicle Build will be revealed on August 27th at Overland Expo Mountain West in Loveland, Colorado.

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