Land Rover has showcased the power of its diesel hybrid prototypes as they completed an epic journey from the car manufacturer’s home in Solihull, along the silk trail to Mumbai in India.
The Range Rover Diesel Hybrid prototypes endured temperatures ranging between -10 degrees C up to 43 degrees C and embarked on a wide variety of terrain up to altitudes of 5,500 metres. Over the 53 day journey, the vehicles traversed 13 countries, two continents and 10,472 miles. They were also the first foreign-registered cars to travel the Xinjiang-Tibet highway in China, which covers a mountainous route of up to 5,300 metres above sea level.
Countries travelled through by the convoy included France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Nepal and India and the team stayed in hostels and tents along trade routes that were used to connect Asia to Europe 2,000 years ago.
Instant torque at 0 rpm from the 35 kW electric motor was a boon to the cars, particularly as they carried a lot of luggage, camping gear, spare fuel cans, wheels tyres and not-so aerodynamic roof racks. The motor combined with TDV6 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine provided great fuel consumption for a car of this size and power, which averaged between 36 mpg and 37 mpg as they travelled muddy tracks that cannot be journeyed by most types of vehicle.
Land Rover set these cars out on their journey as a means of fine-tuning the calibration of engine and transmission software, ensuring that the electric motor and diesel engine work seamlessly together to reach 340 brake horsepower regardless of the terrain they are in. It said that it had already proven the strength of the cars’ mechanical components so was using the trip to test them. The journey led to 300 gigabytes-worth of technical data being produced for the engineering team that works in Gaydon, in the UK.
Among the team that led the cars on the journey was Jaguar Land Rover Hybrids and Electrification Director Peter Richings, who took part in the last part of the trip between Jaipur and Mumbai.
Speaking about the success that the cars had, Mr Richings said: “The world’s first diesel hybrid expedition along the Silk Trail pioneered an ambitious route across Europe and Asia that would have been impassable to most other types of vehicle – but no matter how hostile the conditions, the Range Rover Hybrid prototypes took it all in their stride.
“In developing the hybrid-powered Range Rover, our objective was to gain hybrid’s fuel economy and carbon emissions advantages without compromising the Range Rover’s go-anywhere capabilities, its cabin space or its refinement. The success of this remarkable expedition clearly demonstrates we have achieved that.”
Of course, covering such treacherous terrain did not come without technical setbacks. The convoy of three Range Rover Hybrid prototypes and four support vehicles faced 15 punctures, four wheels being damaged by potholes and four windscreens getting cracked by loose stones thrown up off the roads.
The first Land Rover production hybrid is due to go on sale during the second quarter of 2014.