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Jaunt Motors: The company making exploration sustainable

Dave Budge, founder of Australian EV conversion firm Jaunt Motors, shares the story behind these fully-electric Land Rovers

“I was driving a Land Rover Defender and I just wished it was electric.” That’s how the journey of Jaunt Motors began just three years ago, explains Dave Budge, the co-founder of Victoria-based EV conversion firm Jaunt Motors.

“I wanted to hear the sounds of the bush and I wanted all the benefits of an electric vehicle. I also started to feel more and more guilty as we were going on longer trips. In Australia, the distances are huge, and that can be amazing, but you also realise that to go on holiday to ‘this place’, you’ve driven 2000 kilometres to get there and burnt hundreds of litres of diesel to get to the pristine, natural, crisp air. But what’s the trial I’ve left behind? Carbon and pollution.”

With a particular focus on Land Rovers, the vehicle that was the original inspiration for the company, Jaunt up-cycles the iconic 4WD’s to make them suitable for sustainable exploration. As Dave explained, however, road-trips in Australia can stretch for thousands and thousands of kilometers, which presents immediate questions of range.

Dave said: “In the Series vehicles, so pre-1985, we do a very small, 28kWh battery pack, but everyone upgrades to the 53kWh battery pack and that will get maybe 150 kilometres of range on a highway, but that’s purely to do with the aerodynamics of the old Land Rover.

“If you’re doing under 80kph, you might get 250 kilometres of range and that’s realistically what most people are doing; they’re driving around town, they’re driving down little country roads so they will be getting somewhere around 200 kilometres on average. For the Defenders, we put much more powerful motors in and usually bigger battery packs, too, between 75kWh to 100kWh, which will offer between 450-500 kilometres of range.”

Tackling the issue of range was not his biggest challenge, however. Australia has one of the lowest adoption rates of EVs in the world, and one of the highest transport emissions per capita, so encouraging people to switch their much loved diesel Land Rover’s to electric was never going to be easy.

“There’s a big car culture here,” Dave explained. “We have one of the oldest national fleets in the world and people hang onto cars for a very long time. We’ve got this particular association with cars that people want to hang onto them and keep using them, and when you combine that with a terrible adoption of EVs to the Tesla Model 3 being the most sold car in the country, suddenly people have had a ride in someone’s Tesla and they get it.

“We’re now seeing people understand that they’re considering an EV, they know their 4X4 is going to have to be electric and that they might not be ready for an EV now, but they know it’s going to be their next car.”

So, what is next for Jaunt? For a company that has, for now, specifically focused on restoring and converting classic Land Rover’s over to electric, Dave says there are plans in place to branch out to different makes and models.

He said: “It’s not just Land Rovers. We get asked to do some quirky stuff and I’d love to, but it’s about finding the right car. It’s about having enough parts that are available, and they also have to reach the same level of nostalgia and culture. We’ll continue to do these cars that were iconic and we’ll add these as we go.”

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