Although the US is one of the largest markets for hybrid vehicles, Land Rover will only be offering its familiar 375hp 5.0 V8 and 510hp supercharged V8 engine options stateside when the all-new 2013 Range Rover goes on sale.
With its all-aluminum structure and suspension plus other weight optimization programs, the new car is 700 lb lighter (up to 926 lb in certain European specifications) than the outgoing model. This makes it an ideal recipient for Jaguar Land Rover’s revolutionary new hybrid system.
As the first diesel hybrid, the new model combines a 3.0 TDV6 engine with a 36kw electric motor that is charged by regenerative braking to give electric drive at low speeds or a power boost at high speed. The combined output is rated at 333hp, ensuring lively acceleration.
The new hybrid returns 37mpg (US) with very low carbon output but only meets EU5 emissions standards so couldn’t be sold in stricter markets such as California. However, the company did point out that EU6 standards, which come into effect around 2015, would meet all current US standards, so hybrids should be with us provided the goalposts don’t move too quickly or too high.
The electric motor is housed within the ZF eight-speed auto transmission that is now standard across the entire range. From this position it can either drive the wheels or divert energy to the battery pack.
Land Rover insists the new car’s off-road ability isn’t compromised by the new equipment, allowing it to wade in up to 35” of water like it’s conventional siblings. The battery and power management equipment is all placed under the car, below its center of gravity so as not to disrupt the handling. And with the vehicle designed to accept hybridization from the start, these parts don’t compromise ground clearance either.
In fact, the Range Rover Hybrid’s only drawback will be its price and lack of availability in the US since it doesn’t even sacrifice trunk space. And the boron steel cradle that protects the underside of the lithium-ion power cells is able to support the vehicle, even allowing it to pivot on the structure if off-road ground clearance is a problem.
We also learned that the Range Rover’s new panoramic roof, introduced after 70% of Evoque owners were found to specify this option, is similarly strong. Despite its glass construction and sheer size, it’s able to support three times the vehicle’s weight if the need should arise.
Described by Land Rover as “The World’s Most Capable Hybrid,” this Range Rover won’t be a slouch. The power boost from the electric motor sees it hit 60mph from a standstill in under 7sec thanks to the power boost, eight-speed trans and weight loss. Prospective customers should also be able to exceed the combined fuel economy figure since the test procedure doesn’t fully account for the lower vehicle weight that will be more apparent on the road and at the pumps.
Company executives didn’t rule out the possibility of gasoline-engined hybrid derivatives to follow, possibly allowing for an appearance in the US market before the earlier 2015 estimates. However, confirmation on any of this speculation wasn’t forthcoming.
Pricing details and availability for US cars will be available shortly.