The system being developed must achieve a set number of goals before being deemed a production possibility. This includes a 30% improvement of emission levels without comprising the core nature of a Land Rover -its off-road abilities. As mentioned in a previous article the next gen Range Rover will be based on a lightweight aluminium chassis, already contributing to dropping the emission levels, but this won't be released until 2012.
Rather than wait around for the new model, Land Rover is working on a a complex hybrid system. This is based on a electric power system around the rear axle, allowing all the wheels to be powered by the electric motor separately, helping to ensure no drop in the off-road performance that Land Rover is so famous for.
The cost of using both these technologies is quite high, but if the goal of 30% less CO2 levels is achieved, we could see the first hybrid Land Rovers coming towards the end of the year, or first quarter next year in the higher end of the price spectrum.
Land Rovers and Range Rovers have long been the definition of gas-guzzling SUVs that environmentalists love to hate. With the development of a hybrid vehicle and the CO2 emissions offset program announced last year, the company stands a good chance of becoming one of the greenest carmakers around.