If you believe BBC’s Top Gear and a number of blogs, Land Rover has gone hybrid gaga. The reports say the company has confirmed the production a new Range Rover compact crossover two-wheel-drive hybrid SUV for 2012; that it’s developing a diesel-electric hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport for a 2012 debut; and that the company is currently testing a fleet of five plug-in hybrid SUVs in the UK.
There were so many announcements—many of them conflicting with one another—that we reached out to Jim Resnick, product PR manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America. He confirmed production of a new smaller SUV for 2011, based on its LRX concept, but said no other details have been announced. “There will likely be several iterations, but it’s not something we’re discussing yet. We haven’t announced what powertrain the vehicle will have,” Resnick told HybridCars.com.
The only fact about Land Rover’s fuel efficiency strategy that Resnick would confirm is reduced size and weight. “It’s quite a bit smaller than anything that Range Rover and Land Rover has ever had,” Resnick said. “It will be lighter and lightness equals greater efficiency.”
Intent vs. Reality
In 2008, Land Rover unveiled a small three-door SUV concept called the LRX. The concept used a 2.0-liter, turbodiesel 4×4 hybrid, capable of running on biodiesel. Land Rover said the concept could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent compared with other comparable 4x4s. When the LRX was revealed, Land Rover managing director Phil Popham said, “It’s all about looking to the future. The LRX concept is making another statement of intent about sustainability, and Land Rover’s credentials about environmental performance.”
In December, Edmunds.com reported that Land Rover said it would develop a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid version of the Range Rover Sport, with a 20-mile electric range, for a 2012 debut. (Taking a kitchen-sink technology approach would be very expensive, and would require aggressive action to produce by 2012.) In a follow-up reportyesterday, Edmunds said the company is currently testing five prototypes in Great Britain, which according to just-auto cost about $3 million each to build. Jaguar Land Rover’s Reznick would not confirm either report.
So, green car fans can get excited about stories of a new luxury SUV hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and run the risk of being disappointed. Or cast aside the reports, and wait to see what powertrain that Land Rover’s new smaller SUV will really have. Reznick told us, “Introduction of the product is still a long way away. People should stay tuned.”