Twenty days after the start of the journey of three Range Rover Hybrid prototype vehicles for the Silk Trail 2013 expedition, they’re already at the half-way point. They’ve recently reached the deserts of central Asia. The kick-off of the challenge was at Land Rover’s home in Solihull, UK. The destination is Mumbai, India. The vehicles have been driven 5,226 miles (8,411 kilometres). It passed through the roads of Kazakhstan and some parts of Uzbekistan, lands of Arabic and Oriental people and cultures on the third week. This expedition is the last validation test for the Range Rover Hybrids before they get approved for production. So far, they’ve driven through some of the most difficult road conditions possible.
They’ve gone past asphalt surfaces with deep potholes and layered with small stones; mud tracks that have been dry and rutted or wet and slippery; and dusty desert trails that are hard as gravel every so often and soft as sand in other times. The seven vehicles didn’t come out unscathed after experiencing different terrains in temperatures that range from 17 to 43 degrees Celsius.
The damage so far is minimal, with just four punctures and a cracked windscreen. What makes the Range Rover different from other hybrids is that it has a full-size spare wheel and tire. The Range Rover Hybrid models are each equipped with a parallel 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel engine and 35kW (47bhp) electric motor.
They offer outstanding fuel economy – unusual for a very roomy and powerful vehicle that carries a heavy load (including roof-rack mounted expedition equipment). The automaker has proven how frugal and reliable these vehicles are as they get past the water-logged mud tracks of the Kalmykiya grasslands in eastern Russia and return over 40 mpg on asphalt highways and hectic urban roads in Russia and Uzbekistan. [source: Land Rover]