Car news

14 October 2013

Land Rover's Silk Route Expedition is a success!

They've done it! Three Range Rover Hybrids have made it to Mumbai, the journey's final destination, in one piece

Amaan Ahmed
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53 days - that's all it took Land Rover to complete its ambitious 2013 Silk Route Expedition. Having kickstarted the journey towards the end of August, the team made its way through a total of two continents, 13 countries and 16,853kms before the trio of Range Rover Hybrid prototypes finally rolled into Mumbai, the city of its parent company. It is also the first time that such an expedition was completed with hybrid vehicles.

In less than two months, the cars have gone through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Nepal and India. They took the famed Silk Route of yore on their way here, the same stretch of road that connected Asia to Europe, and was used extensively by traders almost 2,500 years ago.

During the journey, the team also used the Xinjiang-Tibet highway, a mountainous route never undertaken by a foreign vehicle, or indeed by any western traveller. This highway is 5,300 metres above sea level, and at such dizzying heights, a standard Range Rover might have struggled with an engine gasping for breath. But since these were the hybrids, the 47bhp electric motor fed instant torque - all 170Nm of it - to the wheels at 0rpm, and so, the journey was a lot easier.

These cars endured some of the trickiest conditions you can imagine - heavy rain, glutinous mud tracks, landslide-prone areas, temperatures going as high as 43 degrees, and falling as low as -10 degrees in certain areas. They were also loaded to the brim with data-logging equipment, camping gear, food, roof racks, first-aid kits, the lot. And even then, these super-heavy Rangies (the support Discovery weighed four tonnes) returned around 12.5-13kpl throughout the journey. Impressed much?

Apart from some unforgettable memories, Land Rover's taking back more than 300GB worth of technical data that they recorded throughout the trip, the sole focus of which was to perfect the diesel-electric combination for use in every market. Considering the way the cars made it to the finish line with just a few punctures here and some cracked windshields there, that has certainly been taken care of. And following the completion of this extreme expedition, the hybrid Rangie will go on sale in select markets come 2014.

Do you think a diesel-electric Range Rover would work in India, dotcommers?

Tags: range rover hybrid, silk route, jlr, land rover, range rover

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