Land Rover has worked so hard to make sure the Range Rover Hybrid performs in a near-seamless way, the prototypes have been driven for longer than any other Land Rover prototype – ever.
This tough trials included the huge Range Rover Silk Trail that MSN Cars took part in recently – and even the press fleet launch cars now being driven in Strasburg are actually prototypes that Land Rover continues to monitor closely.
In all, around 100 Range Rover Hybrids have been built for engineers to tirelessly assess.
Lynfel Owen, Range Rover vehicle integration manager, told us that the focus was not to make the hybrid feel different, but to seem like ‘just another powertrain’ option.
“We wanted it to be seamless, particularly in the transition from electric drive to diesel engine power. To the user, it should be almost imperceptible and it took a lot of software tuning to get this right.”
Owen said adding in the hybrid hardware – the battery and electric motor – was actually quite simple. “The hardware is easy as it’s only a few components. What takes the time is getting the software right, particularly that last 20% that makes such a difference.
“The only way to do this is for engineers to get in and drive it, in as many situations as possible.”
To help with this, Owen explained the prototypes were fitted with an advanced GPS tracking system, with an alert button on the dash. “As soon as the engineer noted something odd, they would press this and log it in the GPS trace. We could then analyse their notes and, where necessary, go back to that location and recreate the condition to engineer out the fault.”
Even now, engineers are still looking at the software, he said. “We liken it to Apple iOS software: each release has a version number, and we’re always looking for updates to make it as good as possible.
“You only get one chance to launch a hybrid like this. It has got to be right.”