The new Range Rover Hybrid has completed the world's first hybrid expedition, averaging more than 36mpg over the 10,472-mile journey from the UK to India.
Three prototypes took 53 days to travel from Land Rover's factory in Solihull to Mumbai - the home of the Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company, Tata.
The journey tested the new Range Rover Hybrid in a variety of extreme conditions with temperature ranges of -10 to 43C and up to 5500 meters above sea level. It followed the legendary Silk Road trading routes that first connected Asia with Europe more than 2,500 years ago passing through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China (including Tibet), Nepal and India.
The expedition passed through a mountainous route never previously completed by a vehicle from outside the country – the Xinjiang-Tibet highway. What's more, seven consecutive days were spent at altitudes between 3,350 and 5,379 metres with oxygen levels as low as 10 per cent.
The purpose of the expedition was to fine-tune the calibration of engine and transmission software to ensure perfectly seamless performance of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel and electric motor, which combine to produce 340bhp, in all terrains, temperatures and altitudes. In total 300 gigabytes of detailed technical records were sent to the engineering team at Gaydon in the UK.
Technical setbacks reflected the roughness of the road surfaces: 15 punctures among the expedition’s three Range Rover Hybrids and four support vehicles, four wheels damaged by deep potholes, and four windscreens cracked by stones thrown-up on loose surfaces.
Despite this, the actual average economy figure of over 36 mpg for the 10,472 mile journey, is just 8mpg down on its official economy of 44mpg.
Peter Richings, Jaguar Land Rover Hybrids and Electrification Director who took part in the final leg from Jaipur to Mumbai commented: "I think the economy we got was quite remarkable considering the vehicles were heavily laden and the range of conditions they faced. We drove them on high speed autobahns in Germany to extreme off road in the mountains operating up to 5,500 meters above sea level, where oxygen levels are very low."
However, he said the real benefit of the expedition was the opportunity to test the Range Rover Hybrid at high altitude. Richings added: "We were able to develop calibration suitable for extreme altitudes, so the Range Rover Hybrid will be ready when we want to launch the car in markets with such conditions like China."