Land Rover is investing £700 million over the next five years to make its cars greener. This also good news for buyers of Land Rovers here. For instance, 'Stop start' will be introduced on the Freelander diesel later this year and that alone will reduce the CO2 emissions from 194g/km to 179g/km, with a welcome reduction in the new cost of that Land Rover and also road tax.
Concerns over the environment, rising oil prices and a global credit crunch have been bad news for big off-roaders or sport utility vehicles. Land Rover acknowledges it has to raise its game.
The company, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and bought by Indian conglomerate Tata in March, will start its move towards greener motoring later this year when it introduces a stop-start system on Freelander diesel models.
Stop-start turns the engine off while idling in traffic and automatically restarts when the accelerator is pressed. This technology will gradually be introduced across the Land Rover fleet said managing director Phil Popham.
This will be followed by further innovations, dubbed e-terrain technology by the company. These include diesel-electric hybrid models and electric rear axle drive (ERAD ) which will allow the vehicle to move off without starting the engine as well as supplying extra power over tough terrain.
The research into the environmental technology has been jointly funded by the British government and has involved a number of UK suppliers.
Popham said: "Over the past 60 years Land Rover has delivered real benefits worldwide, a quarter of all vehicles used by aid agencies around the world are Land Rovers but the challenge now is sustainability.
"We have to make vehicles that still meet the go-anywhere requirements that our cars are renowned for while addressing the concerns for the environment."
In mapping out a greener route for the future, Popham added: "We will reduce our CO2 footprint but we will not compromise on the ability of our vehicles to tackle the toughest conditions."
Product development director Phil Hodgkinson added: "As well as new powertrain and transmission technologies we will also be looking to reduce the weight and size of our vehicles and you will also see a step change in terms of aerodynamics.
"Stop start will be introduced on the Freelander diesel later this year and that alone will reduce the CO2 emissions from 194g/km to 179g/km."
Hodgkinson said the company had still not made a decision on the LRX concept unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show at the start of the year.