When you’re building a car as important as the new Range Rover Hybrid, you’ll want to make sure you test it properly. With this in mind, Land Rover has taken its new baby on final validation test before production – a mammoth 53-day,10,472-mile road trip along the Silk Trail from Solihull, the home of Land Rover, to Mumbai, the home of the company’s owners, Tata.
Although obviously a bit of a PR stunt, Land Rover’s reps says the trip allowed them to “fine-tune the calibration of engine and transmission software to ensure perfectly seamless performance in all terrains and extreme temperatures and altitudes.”
The good news for Land Rover is that nothing went dramatically wrong. Nothing, that is, apart from 15 punctures (shared between the three Range Rover Hybrids and their four support vehicles), four wheels damaged by deep potholes and four windscreens cracked by stones thrown up from loose surfaces.
That’s not bad going, bearing in mind the three prototype cars crossed 13 countries, two continents, faced temperatures from -10 degrees to 43 degrees Celsius at altitudes of up to 5,500 metres and just about every type of terrain.
Of course, the million pound question is how fuel efficient these cars proved across the length of the journey. According to Land Rover, they returned 36 to 37mpg throughout, which is impressive considering their enormous size, the fact they were asked to negotiate sticky mud and dense and erratic Chinese and Indian traffic, and were laden with heavy supplies. Both vehicles carried not only their passengers, but also their luggage, camping gear, food, medical supplies and roof racks with spare wheels, tyres and jerry cans of fuel.
During their trek through the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Tibet, Nepal and India, the Range Rover Hybrids followed the legendary Silk Road trading routes that first connected Asia with Europe more than 2,500 years ago. Along the route, they stopped overnight at hotels, hostels and in tents at many of the staging posts visited by Silk Road merchants, missionaries and mercenaries.
Peter Richings, Jaguar Land Rover Hybrids and Electrification Director who took part in the final leg from Jaipur to Mumbai commented: “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.”
Range Rover Hybrid Pictures