Land Rover’s pledge to become environmentally friendly is starting to result in some interesting developments. Having already previewed its new hybrid technology in the form of the ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) diesel-hybrid LR2 concept back in 2008, the British SUV manufacturer is now reportedly working on a new hybrid version of its Range Rover Sport.

Unlike the ERAD, the new model, previewed by the latest Range_e hybrid concept, will feature a 34 horsepower electric motor matched with a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine on a common driveshaft. In this configuration, the diesel-electric Range Rover Sport will be able to travel up to 20 miles on electric power alone and emit CO2 emissions of just 100 g/km--about two-thirds the levels of the Lexus RX 450h and comparable with a compact car.

Land Rover engineers are still finetuning the powertrain as the launch date is only pegged for 2013. This date, incidentally, coincides with the launch of the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, both of which will also pick up ZF’s new eight-speed automatic transmission.

Land Rover SUVs have long been the definition of gas-guzzling SUVs that environmentalists love to hate. With the development of a hybrid vehicle, however, the company stands a good chance of becoming one of the greenest automakers around.

On road tests of the new Range_e will commence later this year with a small fleet of five prototype vehicles. Further down the track Land Rover eventually plans to start tests of a gasoline version and beyond that a plug-in hybrid model will be developed.