Land Rover models are high-end luxury SUVs with an ardent fan base. But while these pricey utes are popular, they're also quite thirsty at the pump, and between rising gas prices and increased legislative pressures regarding CO2 emissions, the British automaker has undertaken an alternative fuel strategy that should begin paying off soon.
Land Rover Brand Director John Edwards tells Inside Line that the Tata Motors-owned automaker will start its production alt-fuel strategy with a gasoline hybrid under the hood of the Range Rover in 2013, followed by a range-extended hybrid in 2014. The Chevrolet Volt-like range extender will likely involve a larger battery pack and motor that do most of the work and a small gasoline engine that will charge the battery. This top-down approach means that bigger, more expensive Rovers will receive the hybrid tech first. The move will reportedly result in a greater impact on overall emissions, and lower-end models like the forthcoming Evoque may not receive battery assistance any time soon. Bigger models are typically more expensive, too, which means that the cost of the electric propulsion tech can be better hidden in the MSRP.
Also unlikely, according to IL, is a diesel-powered hybrid like the Range_e concept from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. While very efficient with a theoretical 85 miles per gallon and a 20 mile electric-only mode, the diesel engine coupled with all that battery tech would make the utility vehicles far too expensive.
Keep in mind that Tata Motors also owns Jaguar, so you can bet that any gas-electric technology used by Land Rover will also be used by the Leaping Cat.
We're pretty excited about the prospect of highly efficient Range Rovers, but this sort of technology has a way of taking longer to get to market than automakers initially forecast. Land Rover has a bit of time before 2013 happens, though, so we'll just have to wait and see.