British 4×4 expert Land Rover favors diesel hybrid SUVs image

We reported earlier that Land Rover will launch at IAA 2013 its first hybrid models, the Range Rover hybrid and the Range Rover Sport hybrid. But, instead of going via the usual petrol/electric setup, they opted for a more fuel-efficient diesel/electric layout.

Besides the obvious marketing hype that hybrid models for a premium brand generate, the decision to brig to Frankfurt Motor Show the new models are also a response to regulatory pressure to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions.

A Land Rover spokesman said that taking orders for the hybrids will start after their unveiling at the Frankfurt auto show in September, where prices will also be announced. The markets for the hybrids will include Europe, China, Australia, Korea and Taiwan. There are no plans for U.S. sales at the moment but that might change if sales of diesel-powered vehicles increase substantially.

Land Rover decided to develop diesel-hybrids rather than gasoline-electric hybrids because diesels have better fuel economy. Also, having hybrid models would allow the Brits to take advantage of local tax rules and incentives, particularly for company car drivers.

Land Rover’s main rivals will include only gasoline-powered hybrids, like Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, the Lexus RX450h and the U.S.-only Mercedes ML450 Hybrid. The SUVs’ hybrid powertrain combines a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine with a 35kW electric motor (total output of 340-hp) to reduce fuel use by 26 % to 6.4 l/100km (37 U.S. mpg/44 UK mpg), Land Rover says. CO2 emissions will be 169 grams per km. The hybrid system including a Li-Ion battery pack, electric motor and inverter adds 120kg in weight to the standard Range Rover/Sport. The battery pack is mounted beneath the floor and the Sport can still be bought with the third row of seats because it doesn’t impact on interior space.