In a sign of the times, Land Rover last week unveiled the new compact Range Rover Evoque, the company’s smallest, lightest and most fuel efficient vehicle ever produced. Customers will have a choice between four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive versions. The two-door model, which goes in sale summer 2011, will be priced around $50,000.
As we reported in May, rumors that Land Rover will offer a diesel-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or even a plug-in diesel-hybrid vehicle are not yet confirmed. Jim Resnick, product PR manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America, told us, “There will likely be several iterations [of the small SUV], but it’s not something we’re discussing yet. We haven’t announced what powertrain the vehicle will have.”
The Range Rover Evoque will debut at the Paris Motor Show this September.
Green Technologies in Phases
The Evoque is loosely based on the Range Rover LRX concept vehicle, which used a 2.0-liter, turbodiesel hybrid system to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent compared with similar SUVs. Later this year, Range Rover is expected to begin testing a three-liter turbodiesel V6 vehicle, under the name Range-E, that uses a 25-kilowatt electric drivetrain. Land Rover hopes to deliver a plug-in hybrid with 20 miles of all-electric range, and a top speed of 120 mph. If produced, a Range Rover hybrid would become available in 2013 at the earliest, and a plug-in hybrid in 2015.
As a maker of large SUVs, Land Rover needs to move in a greener direction in order to keep up with the auto industry’s trend toward more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. (Government mandates will require higher fuel efficiency and reduced carbon output.) The introduction of the Evoque is one step—but Land Rover will also work to make its signature all-terrain vehicles less carbon intensive. The company, still based in Britain but now owned by India’s Tata Motors, plans to introduce the 2011 Range Rover with a new diesel engine, that offers more than 300 horsepower with improving fuel economy by 18 percent.
So, Land Rover’s most immediate steps to improve efficiency are to reduce size and weight, and improve diesel technology—with hybrids and plug-in models coming at a later yet-to-be-confirmed time.