Thursday, May 20, 2010

Land Rover Is Working on a Diesel Hybrid and Two-Wheel Drive

Land Rover, a storied British brand that is virtually synonymous with four-wheel drive, has announced a two-wheel drive option for its new compact Range Rover, based on the LRX Concept. The new vehicle, which a Land Rover news release described as “the lightest, most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever,” is scheduled for 2011 availability.

“A two-wheel drive option is just one way in which we are developing our vehicles’ efficiency whilst adding to the Land Rover range and expanding our customer base,” said Land Rover’s managing director, Phil Popham. “We will continue to make the ‘worlds finest all-terrain vehicles’ for those customers who require four-wheel drive but will also now offer an alternative to those that don’t.”

Two-wheel drive is inherently more efficient than four-wheel drive because parasitic losses resulting from power transmission are reduced. The automaker hopes to achieve additional gains through vehicle weight reduction.

Long-range plans for the brand include the development of diesel-hybrid power trains for the larger vehicles. In a press release, Land Rover said that the brand’s first diesel hybrid would be on the road in 2013.

A Land Rover North America spokesman, Stuart Schorr, said the automaker had not announced whether the two-wheel drive Range Rover option or future hybrid models will be available in the United States.

Land Rover vehicles are manufactured in Great Britain, but the brand has been owned by India’s Tata Motors since 2008. According to Mr. Schorr, the New York metropolitan area is the largest Range Rover market in the world.