|Land Rover LRX hybrid concept.|
Land Rover staged the world debut of the LRX diesel hybrid concept at the North American International Auto Show. The three-door diesel LRX, with its compact size and lighter weight, offers the potential of achieving 120 g/km CO2 emissions, according to Land Rover.
The LRX is conceived as a highly fuel-efficient, 2.0-liter, turbodiesel hybrid that meets US emissions standards and is capable of running on biodiesel. In combination with other Land Rover technologies, this powertrain could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30% compared with other SUVs of comparable size, and reduce emissions to approximately 120 g/km.
LRX is described as a cross-coupé and extends the scope of what Land Rover represents. Though 5.9 in (149 mm) shorter than the LR2/Freelander 2 and 8.1 in (205 mm) lower, LRX was conceived as a premium vehicle, designed to appeal to new customers who may want the presence of a larger SUV, but in a more compact package.
The LRX features a integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD)—first shown in 2006 as part of the e-Terrain System (earlier post)—that would allow LRX to use electric drive alone at lower speeds while retaining full (even improved) sport utility ability in tough conditions. Land Rover’s solution retains mechanical drive to all four wheels.
(The e-Terrain system was packaged into a Freelander-sized concept called the Land_e, and targeted sub-150g/km CO2 figures in a vehicle of that size.)
Off-road, the ERAD would provide additional torque only when it is needed, and with maximum electrical torque from standstill, this solution offers even better low-speed control and enhanced pull-away on difficult surfaces (such as packed snow or wet grass) or when towing.
On the road, the ERAD would allow low-speed traffic creep up to 20 mph (32 km/h) on electric power alone, with the Integrated Starter-Generator (ISG) function re-starting the engine automatically when needed. The electric drive would then continue to assist the mechanical drive until the engine is running in its most efficient range, benefiting both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The ISG would also stop the engine automatically when the vehicle halts in traffic, so the engine does not idle needlessly, and restart it quickly and smoothly as required.
The electrical drive system uses power stored in a dedicated high-voltage, high-capacity, lithium-ion battery pack, independent of the normal 12-volt battery. This is charged by a regenerative braking energy system, also working through the ERAD.
LRX also incorporates Hill Descent Control and Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which optimizes vehicle drivability and comfort, as well as maximizing traction. On LRX, this has five modes, including the new and efficiency-focused ‘Eco’ mode. Principally for on-road use, this configures all the integrated elements of the vehicle’s system for optimized fuel economy. The other four Terrain Response modes provided are sports (also new), general driving, sand and ‘grass/gravel/snow’ (a single program for slippery surfaces).
The exposed structures of the seats, roof and instrument panel are just one approach that Land Rover’s designers have taken to reduce vehicle weight. Another example is replacing the glass for the side windows and roof with polycarbonate from SABIC Innovative Plastics, which is around 40% lighter. The polycarbonate also blocks virtually all UV light (protecting interior materials from fading), while special nano-technology within the material reduces infra-red transmission, helping to keep the interior cool.
The LRX uses vegetable-tanned leather (chromium-free, so better for recycling) in the trim, extensive use of aluminum (both lightweight and readily recyclable) and carpeting made of felt from sustainable sources. The ‘fine suede’ on the door inserts and headliner is a 100% recycled material made from used plastic bottles and fibers.
We are determined to make sustainability a key element in our future product design and the way we do business, while still creating vehicles that have a strong emotional appeal as well as fulfilling people’s practical needs. No single technology delivers all the answers to whole-life sustainability, but the LRX concept brings together some of the ideas for the future that interest us, integrating them into a car that we believe represents an exciting way forward for Land Rover.—Phil Popham, Land Rover’s managing director