Jaguar Land Rover has announced the development of a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). Based on the second-generation Land Rover Defender, the FCEV concept forms part of the British manufacturer’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by the year 2036.

Known as Project Zeus, JLR’s advanced engineering project is partly funded by the UK government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre. Said JLR, “Project Zeus will allow engineers to understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver the performance and capability expected by its customers, from range to refuelling, and towing to off-road ability.”

JLR aims to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036 and be a carbon-neutral company by 2039.

According to JLR, FCEVs, which generate electricity from hydrogen to power an electric motor, provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, plus minimal loss of travelling range in low temperatures. This technology, JLR says, is ideal for larger vehicles, which are required to be able to travel long distances in both hot and cold environments.

To make this project a realisation, JLR has teamed up with a number of research and development (R&D) partners, which include Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC). Testing of the zero tailpipe emissions prototype Land Rover Defender-based FCEV is scheduled to commence at the end of 2021 to verify key attributes such as fuel usage and off-road capability.

“Hydrogen has a role to play in the future hydrogen mix across the whole transport industry,” Ralph Clague, head of hydrogen and fuel cells for Jaguar Land Rover, says. “Alongside [BEVs], [hydrogen] offers another zero tailpipe emissions solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of [JLR’s] vehicles.”