Diesel Hybrid Fits US Market: Land Rover Exec Says

Diesel Hybrid Fits US Market: Land Rover Exec Says
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Fine folks in Europe will get a gift from Land Rover soon: a diesel hybrid version of the 2013 Range Rover. But it won’t be marketed to Americans… for now.

“We’ve got to introduce diesel, we’ve got to introduce hybrid, we’ve got to introduce plug-in hybrid,” Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) North American CEO Andy Goss said during a recent conversation at the Chicago Auto Show.

“Without a doubt, diesel hybrid will make sense in the U.S.,” Goss said. “I think it will take to the diesel,” he said of the U.S. automotive market, albeit not to the same degree as Europe.

But bringing a diesel hybrid to the U.S. will mean more than clearing out a shipping crate and making space on a freightliner. European emissions standards are lax compared to the U.S., which prevented the unusual combo from coming here.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Land Rover Review

The latest in a series of increasingly strict rules, called Euro6, will come into play in 2014 essentially leveling the playing field and allowing automakers to spread research and development dollars over more of the map.

“We’ve not confirmed timing for the U.S., but clearly once that technology is developed and has hit Europe, there will be a certain point [when] it would make perfect sense to have that vehicle in the U.S.”

DIESELS’ DIFFERENT REPUTATION IN AMERICA

U.S. diesel sales have a different traditional audience than the broad stroke brush makers can count on in Europe. People here often think of diesel as dirty stuff meant for construction site machinery. Certainly not the fodder of fine luxury products built to pamper your prince-and-princess lifestyle. Or is it?

Other companies are turning to the formerly filthy fuel, but none in the same niche. Ram just announced a V6 diesel for its light-duty half-ton pickup. Meanwhile, the same motor will power the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chevrolet sees space in the compact sedan market and aims to fill it this year with the diesel Cruze – a space Volkswagen sat in, happily munching strudel and keeping to itself. Then there’s the Japanese take on things: with the 2014 Mazda6 set to get a diesel 4-cylinder in exchange for a gas V6 engine.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Range Rover Debuts, Diesel Hybrid Confirmed

But none of those will compete with a Range Rover. On the other hand, a BMW X5d or Mercedes ML350 BlueTec might come close. They’re still tens of thousands shy of an option-laden Land Rover product, but there’s clearly a market for luxury diesel SUVs in the U.S.

Of course, Goss is wise to that and outlined a possible plan that would see JLR slowly juicing up its product line toward offering a diesel hybrid. There are steps to climb first, though.

“We’re at a model cadence now where it’s [about] deciding what [and] when we will do that. But without that, we can’t get to where we need to get to.”

When asked about timing, he said “We can’t be specific yet, but it’s a serious serious live conversation.”

GALLERY: 2013 Range Rover

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