Range Rover Goes Hybrid

Brits will add gas-electric option on two models.

by on Aug.21, 2013

Range Rover plans to add two different models powered by its new diesel-hybrid system.

Apparently, when the folks at Land Rover buy into something they do it in a big way. And so, when they shine they roll onto the stage at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month they’ll be revealing not just one but two new hybrid models.

The first-ever Land Rover gas-electric powertrain will be shared by both the flagship Range Rover model and the even newer Range Rover Sport. Meanwhile, further applications could be in store for other members of the British maker’s SUV line-up in the near future.

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The new system pairs a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel with a 47-horsepower electric motor to create a combined 335 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox links the hybrid package to all four wheels. Better yet — for mileage-minded motorists, anyway — the new system should deliver a solid double-digit boost in fuel economy.

“We are extremely excited to introduce the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Hybrids, the world’s first hybrid SUVs with legendary Land Rover capability,” said John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director. “The addition of a smooth electric drive enhances refinement, cuts CO2 emissions and delivers staggering performance on a par with our SDV8 engine.”

You can actually get an early look at the new Range Rover Hybrids tomorrow, Thursday, August 22, if you’re nearby the factory in Solihull, U.K., where three of the new models will embark on a drive to the headquarters of Land Rover’s parent company Tata Motors, in Mumbai, India. The drive along the old Silk Trail is expected to take the three vehicles through 12 countries, a 10,000-mile journey planned to wrap up on October 15.

The new system will leapfrog earlier-generation hybrid drivelines by adapting a smaller, lighter and more energy-dense, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. In all, the entire assembly adds just 265 more pounds to the base weight.

Land Rover claims the Range Rover Hybrid will charge from 0 to 100 kmh – 0 to 62.5 mph – in just 6.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 135 mph. The smaller Range Rover Sport Hybrid will get there in 6.7 seconds, on its way to a maximum 145 mph.

The good news is that the system is not expected to curtail the impressive on- or off-road capabilities of the latest-generation Range Rover and Sport models. But the hybrid package should curb CO2 emissions by an estimated 26%, says Land Rover which also boasts of an estimated 44.1 mpg combined city/highway fuel economy.

The system is capable of operating in EV mode at speeds up to 30 mph before the diesel engine fires back up, and it can go for up to a mile on battery power alone.

If you miss the Silk Road 2013 caravan, you can place your order starting September 10th, with first deliveries scheduled for “early 2014,” according to a Land Rover release. But here’s where the asterisk comes in. The two Range Rover hybrid models will initially be available only in Europe. Other markets will follow but, at least for now, there are no specific plans for the U.S.

The problem is that diesels and hybrids each carry hefty price premiums. Add them together and the cost penalty grows substantially. It’s apparently unclear to Land Rover officials whether they can generate enough volume to justify the cost of certifying and bringing the new, high-mileage offerings to the States – though they could eventually be convinced, especially as the maker stares down quickly tightening U.S. mileage standards.

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