A few days ago saw Land Rover’s announcement of it’s first introduction to the world of hybrid vehicles with the Range Rover Hybrid and Range Rover Sport Hybrid. We mentioned in that post that Land Rover would be sending a few of it’s shiny new vehicles to become, not to shiny vehicles along a tortuous route; the Silk Trail.
So called because of the route taken by traditional Chinese silk merchants for over 1000 years until the 14th century, delivering their worm created prized goods to Europe via a heady mix of desert and mountains complete with every conceivable obstacle nature could put in-between. Of course, back then the route was not done by luxury Range Rovers, but instead by camel and donkey. The route extends over 4,000 miles and as mentioned, originally went as far as China. However, Land Rover are taking the scenic route and traveling a little further to India.
In America, Land Rover very recently completed the “coast to coast” using no major roads at all in three Land Rover Discoveries (LR4), so this new challenge is set to demonstrate Land Rover’s legendary off-road capabilities. Although the Silk Trail is being used as a promotional aid, to show off the off-road prowess of the new hybrids, the route doubles as a final engineering sign-off.
What could be a better test of a new vehicle than a 9,950 mile journey across all terrains, finishing up in India at the home of current Land Rover owners, Tata?
Setting off from the home of Land Rover in Solihull seven days ago on August 22, the trip is destined to take over seven weeks to complete, finally arriving in Mumbai, India on 15th October.
Silk Trail 2013 Expedition Leader, Dougie Dale said,
“We are delighted with progress so far, but the European leg is the easy part with good road networks – this has allowed us to use the Hybrid system to great effect predominantly in urban areas. As the expedition heads towards Eastern Europe and beyond over the next week, we expect the terrain to toughen and we will really start to use the Range Rover Hybrid’s uncompromised capability.”
The Silk Trail expedition is divided into 10 stages and is scheduled to visit France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Nepal and India. The Range Rover Hybrids are being driven by teams of Land Rover development engineers and specially invited media from 10 countries in Europe and other nations along the route.
“The 53-day expedition will cross 12 countries and tackle some of the world’s most challenging roads, passes and trails, including part of the ancient, 4,000 mile Silk Road which connected Asia with the Mediterranean. This event is the latest in Land Rover’s proud history of going ‘above and beyond”
said John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director.
On Monday 26th August the crews and vehicles paused in Berlin, Germany, after completing 833 miles (1,340km) of the route. Over time, Berlin has become a symbolic meeting point between western and eastern Europe, reflecting the Silk Trail’s linking of the western world with the far east in earlier centuries. The 1,094 mile (1,760km) Stage 2 drive to Cracow (Poland) and Odessa (Ukraine) starts Wednesday 28thAugust.
“A stunning combination of mountain passes, arid desert, high altitude, chaotic city streets, heat, humidity and wilderness will provide the perfect testing ground for our first hybrid. Our engineers are using this adventure as the final development drive before the official sign-off for series production later this year.”
The Range Rover Hybrid and Range Rover Sport Hybrid go on sale across the UK on September 10, with first deliveries in early 2014.
The hybrid powertrain combines Land Rover’s 3-litre SDV6 turbo diesel engine with a 35kW electric motor integrated with the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Total output of the powertrain is 340PS and 700Nm torque, resulting in acceleration to 62mph (100km/h) in under seven seconds, a strong mid-range rush and a top speed of 135mph (218km/h). The powertrain achieves a 26 percent reduction in CO2 emissions to 169g/km and records 44.1mpg (combined cycle).
Source; Land Rover – Range Rover