The launch of Land Rover’s smallest and greenest vehicle has been met with quite a fanfare and pronouncements of a new age of eco-friendly motoring.
Whilst the diesel-electric hybrid LRX undoubtedly represents a shift for the 4×4 manufacturer, amidst the PR bumph and sales babble that accompanied the launch are a few far more pertinent phrases.
The first is that the hybrid nature of the new vehicle’s engine ensures it is exempt from London’s congestion charge. The second is that this is that the target buyer for the LRX is still very much the urban dweller.
Although it is smaller and greener – 60mpg, although not great, is far better than most 4X4s and SUVs can manage – the LRX is still quite some distance from delivering the type of eco-friendly motoring we need, particularly in the UK.
The launch of the LRX came at the Detroit Motor Show, where green has been the colour of choice for virtually all manufacturers this year.
Yet it all smacks of superficiality. The car industry is not changing its attitude and approach overnight – it couldn’t, even if it wanted to make such a radical manoeuvre.
It is too much of a supertanker to pull off such a nimble switch of direction and we’ll have to wait another few years before we do start to see the major manufacturers delivering genuinely “green” vehicles for the mass market.
Perhaps the most significant motor industry development is the confirmation that Indian manufacturer Tata has emerged as favourite to snap up Jaguar and Land Rover from current parent company Ford.
A few days before Land Rover unveiled its new lean, green eco-dream machine, Tata launched the world’s cheapest car and environmentalists around the world rolled their eyes in disbelief.
But then the motor industry is well-versed in providing mixed messages.