Land Rover is slapping a green tax on sales of its 4x4s, which will build up millions to be invested in global ecological schemes like wind farms and Indian cooking stoves that use renewable fuels.
Customers will pay between £85 and £165 on top of their 4x4's list price. The tax is optional, but Land Rover vows most punters will happily pay up to become carbon neutral. The payment will compensate for the environmental impact of a Land Rover's construction and its use over three years and 45,000 miles.
'We don't just want to offset our carbon emissions - we want to invest in a reduction,' Land Rover boss Phil Popham told CAR Online. 'We could buy carbon credits and trade them. But we want the Land Rover name to be attached to projects that will leave a positive legacy,' he said. So Land Rover and its customers will create a multi-million pund fund that will be invested by green charity Climate Care, in ecological projects around the world. The two year programme will offset over 2m tonnes of carbon – that's equivalent to the average amount generated annually by 125,000 homes.
The scheme is part of a wide-ranging initiative to ensure Land Rover lives up to its green oval badge. The company will also strive to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide - one of the gases blamed for increasing the ozone layer and causing global warming - emitted from its two British factories. Simultaneously, Land Rover will be part of its parent company Ford's £1bn investment in green technologies, such as hybrid powertrains, cars running on bioethanol, cleaner petrol and diesel engines, and weight reduction programmes for cars. 'Land Rover will play an integral part in Ford's plan,' pledged Popham. 'We will provide almost one-third of the 9500 engineers working on the project.' Popham confirmed that Land Rover would work hard to reduce the weight of future models, but he ruled out ditching four-wheel drive on some on-road-biased models. 'A Land Rover has to have the greatest breadth of capability, and be class-leading off road. Two-wheel drive can't deliver that.'
He cited the new Freelander’s intelligent four-wheel drive as a good solution. It sends almost all of its torque to the front wheels in normal driving, but can instantly funnel grunt to the rear axle if slip is detected. The new Freelander is due in December, priced from around £22,000 for a 2.2-litre diesel.