Motorists to pay for eco cars

* Land Rover warns car buyers * Customers to pay for green technology * Green Land Rovers in pipeline...

Motorists to pay for eco cars

Green technologies of the future will be expensive and car-buyers will have to bear their share of the cost, Land Rover has warned.

The company is currently developing a diesel-electric hybrid system, initially for the next Freelander but ultimately to be run out across the entire range.

Land Rover product development director Phil Hodgkinson warned: 'This system contains a lot of kit and some of it is very expensive.'

Managing director Phil Popham added: 'Customers are expecting manufacturers to solve the sustainability issue, but are not interested in paying for it, so we have to make sure it offers tangible benefits in return for the extra cost.'

It is not just the cost of the hybrid system itself that increases cost.

It adds around 100 kilos to the weight of a car such as the Freelander, which has to be compensated for by more expensive lightweight materials if the fuel economy gains are not to be wiped out by excess weight.

However, the system is already showing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions improvements of around 24%. In a small car like the LRX concept, the company believes it could achieve 60mpg with emissions of less than 120g/km.

Land Rover plans to roll out the hybrid system progressively. First there will be a stop-start system for diesel manual Freelanders that can bring economy improvements of nearly 9%.

Ultimately the hybrid would involve a zero-emissions electric rear drive which would power the car by itself at low speeds in traffic and also assist when off-roading, and a diesel engine to take over the drive on longer, faster journeys.

However, it takes up a lot of space and is difficult to package in existing models, so it is unlikely to be offered until next-generation vehicles designed to take it start to appear.

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