Land Rovers have long been the definition of gas-guzzling SUVs that environmentalists love to hate--that may all be about to change, however. With the development of a hybrid vehicle, the automaker stands a good chance of becoming one of the greenest companies around.

Land Rover’s pledge to become environmentally friendly is starting to result in some interesting developments, with the automaker revealing this week its new Range_e hybrid concept vehicle based on the Range Rover Sport SUV.

Building on previous developments like the ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) diesel-hybrid LR2 from 2008, Land Rover’s new Range_e points the way to the automaker’s first hybrid model due for sale in 2013, about the same time the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models are due.

Few details have been released but Land Rover has confirmed that trials of a small test fleet of Range_e vehicles will start later this year, and eventually the automaker plans to develop a plug-in hybrid variant.

According to the guys at, the Range_e features a 34 horsepower electric motor matched with a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine on a common driveshaft. In this configuration, the diesel-electric concept will be able to travel up to 20 miles on electric power alone and emit CO2 emissions of just 100 g/km--about two-thirds the levels of the Lexus RX 450h and comparable with a compact car.