Land Rover quashes hybrid hopes for new Evoque

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Fuel economy isn't exactly a strong suit for Land Rover, and now that gas prices are much higher than they were when its Discovery was the darling of soccer moms in better neighbourhoods everywhere, there's no doubt this problem has caused and will continue to cause many a prospective customer to look elsewhere for their next luxury SUV. This isn't as much of a issue in Europe where Land Rover offers fuel-efficient diesel variants, but here in North America hybrids are a much more popular alternative.

In concept form, the new compact Evoque crossover, dubbed LRX in show trim, made newsreels for the brand's new e_Terrain technologies that include biofuel compatibility, lightweight construction materials and technologies such as the removable carbon composite roof panels, regenerative brakes, a stop-start system, and the ERAD (electric rear axle drive) parallel hybrid powertrain system, and along with that it showed a more environmentally conscious Land Rover. News now comes in that no hybrid model will be offered with the Evoque in the foreseeable future. Instead, Auto Express reports that global product director John Edwards has said any future electrically assisted powertrains will likely be featured in the larger family-oriented seven-occupant LR4 and the automaker's top-level Range Rover. According to the magazine, Edwards added that the Evoque is a lightweight crossover so therefore a small four-cylinder diesel engine could provide the level of fuel-efficiency needed to meet mileage and environmental targets.

No doubt hybrid powertrains would be welcome in heavier models like the LR4 and full-size Range Rover lineup, but higher overall brand CAFE ratings could be achieved in North America with an Evoque hybrid, considering how many more of these less expensive and more car-like models Land Rover should be able to sell. What's more, Land Rover has proven that, despite a hunger for turbo-diesel powertrains in the SUV segment, as shown by Jeep and Mercedes-Benz, it likely won't send a diesel-powered Evoque across the Atlantic for North American consumption, leaving the automaker with no serious contender in the lightweight crossover segment, and the door wide open for more innovative domestic, Japanese and Korean, not to mention European competitors to walk away with the ever-growing environmentally conscious market segment as well as those who simply want a more fuel-efficient SUV.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Hybrid, HEV, Land Rover, 2011, Range Rover, Evoque,

Organizations: Land Rover

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