Fuel economy has never been a major part of the Range Rover strategy. That will change, at least in European markets, when the 2013 Range Rover hybrid goes on sale.
The hybrid pairs Land Rover’s turbo-diesel V-6 and an electric motor packaged within a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. A 1.7 kilowatt-hour battery pack resides under the floor. It will, Land Rover says, hit 60 mph in about seven seconds while achieving 45 mpg combined in European testing. Oh, and it can wade through water nearly three-feet deep.
“It is the first true all-terrain hybrid,” says Alex Heslop, chief engineer on the 2013 Range Rover.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, allow us to stress that 45 mpg is a European figure, measured in Imperial gallons. For context, a Toyota Prius boasts 72.4 mpg combined in British markets. Of course, in a Prius you can’t climb over boulders—a boron steel skid plate protects the Range Rover’s battery pack—or luxuriate in an optional 29-speaker Meridian sound system.
For now, the hybrid won’t be sold in the United States, as the diesel six-cylinder would require costly modifications to meet tougher U.S. emissions standards. American customers will have a choice of either a normally aspirated or a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 matched to an eight-speed automatic. Though EPA numbers have not been announced, Land Rover expects significant fuel economy improvements for these models, thanks to both the uprated transmission and the major weight savings attributable to the Range Rover’s new aluminum body.
Neither diesels nor high-priced hybrids have found a large following in our market, so it’s understandable that Land Rover isn’t eager to spend the money to bring it here. However, that calculus may change a year and a half from now, when automakers will be required to meet new European standards that closely match those in the United States.
“There’s clearly an opportunity going forward,” says Nick Rogers, Land Rover’s chief engineer for new vehicle architectures. Rogers indicated that a Range Rover powered by a gasoline supercharged V-6 is also a possibility.
Regardless of whether the Range Rover hybrid arrives in the United States, its powertrain technology will play an important role as the luxury automaker prepares for tougher fuel standards. Expect to see several more Land Rover—and Jaguar—hybrids in the not-too-distant future.
(Non-hybrid 2013 Land Rover Range Rover pictured here.)