The next major step in Land Rover's bid to become more environmentally friendly will be here within seven months.The Solihull-based company already employs specialist hybrid-electric technicians and previewed hybrid technology in the Land-E concept at Geneva 2006. This year it will present a more advanced evolution of the Land-E's system in a driveable prototype.A number of targets must be achieved by the hybrid system for it to be worth mass-producing. Primarily, it must be applicable to the entire Land Rover range including the Range Rover, and must produce a 30 per cent improvement in economy without compromising the car’s off-road abilities. It would also have to produce less than 150g/km of CO2 in a Freelander-sized vehicle. In order to achieve that, the technology will centre around an integrated electric rear axle, which allows all four wheels to be powered by electricity alone –essential to maintaining Land Rover's benchmark off-road capabilities.Weight is also a key factor to the next generation of Land Rovers. For example, the next-generation Range Rover will utilise a lighter, aluminium body to reduce CO2 emissions (read the story here).Teaming this lightweight body with the hybrid drivetrain would achieve the necessary increase in economy and reduction in CO2 emissions that Land Rover requires, but production costs would be large. This may mean that using both aluminium and hybrid technology together would only be applicable in top-end models.Either way, we look forward to getting behind the wheel of the hybrid Land Rover later in 2007. When we do, you’ll be the first to know.