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Range_e (2013) - the hybrid electric Range Rover Sport

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

11 May 2010 15:02

Land Rover today confirmed its first hybrid models will be launched in 2013. The new Range_e is a showcase for the company's diesel-electric hybrid tech in a current Range Rover Sport bodyshell.

Tests will start in late 2010 with a small fleet of five hybrids - but bosses have set a 2013 production date, coinciding with the launch of the large family of Land Rovers.

So the new 2013 Range Rover family will be hybrid?

Yes. The first of the new family is set to be the Range Rover Sport, and the full-size Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery won't be far behind. All are capable of being powered by the new hybrid powertrain, although sources indicate that the RR Sport is likely to be first to the launchpad.

Enabling the hybrid Land Rovers is a ZF eight-speed automatic that will be fitted to all future models - and the hybridised module is exactly the same size as the conventional transmission. Going hybrid does add a further 110kg to the kerbweight, however.

Land Rover engineers are developing both petrol and diesel hybrids, as the brand sells strongly in derv-mad Europe as well as unleaded-centric America and Middle East states. Europe will get the diesel hybrid first and engineers say that if they can smoothe out the trickier diesel application, the petrol hybrid will be a doddle.

Will Land Rover hybrids be green or eco posturing?

There's a serious project underway at Gaydon, with lightweight aluminium tech bound for the 2013 Range Rovers and a suite of electric options. The full hybrid comes first - with a £10k premium in today's money - but by around 2015 a plug-in hybrid is scheduled.

This plug-in hybrid Range Rover is one of the most exciting developments. Chief engineer of hybrids at Jaguar Land Rover, Peter Richings, said: 'It means you can drive a Range Rover for at least 20 miles on full electric power around town, emissions of less than 100g/km and speeds of up to 70mph in EV mode.'

>> Come back for more JLR hybrid news later today