Range Rover Range-e: driven
* Diesel-electric hybrid * Planned for next Range Rover * Could be on sale in 2014...
What is it?
A plug-in diesel-electric hybrid powertrain planned for the next Range Rover, now under test in the current Range Rover Sport.
When can I buy it?
The new Range Rover is planned to go on sale in 2013, so we'd expect the plug-in version a year or so later.
That depends how far upmarket the company plans to push the new Range Rover. Then, there'll be the additional cost of the electric motor and batteries, and other electric drivetrain components.
What will its fuel economy and CO2 be?
It will do an average of 85mpg and emit 89g/km of CO2.
Sounds promising. Is it?
So far, so good. We've driven the car only briefly in a town environment, but that was enough to reveal it is smooth, quiet and anything but short of pace. The switch from electric to diesel or dual-mode running, and gearchanges through the eight-speed automatic transmission are completely stepless.
The Range-e pairs a 91bhp electric motor with the Jaguar-Land Rover 242bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. It is said to be capable of up to 20 miles of electric-only running and the batteries can be fully recharged in four hours through a standard domestic socket.
The diesel engine cuts in for longer journeys, while the two power sources work in tandem when maximum acceleration or heavy-duty towing is demanded.
The system gives the Range Rover Sport the same off-road capability as a petrol or diesel version and possibly even more because of the instant torque provided by the electric motor.
The interesting thing is that the development engineers say it is currently only 30% showroom-ready. They could have fooled us.
What are the downsides?
The batteries and motor will take up space and put back some of the 500kg Land Rover has promised to shed from the next-generation Range Rover.
CO2 emissions of 89g/km mean no road tax, no London Congestion Charge fees, lower company car tax bills and a clearer conscience about driving a big 4x4. Sounds good to us.