The Silk Trail 2013 expedition has reached the half-way point from its starting point at the home of Land Rover in Solihull, UK, to its destination in Mumbai, India. Twenty days after setting-out, the three Range Rover Hybrid vehicles have reached the deserts of central Asia on the ancient Silk Roads that inspired the name and route of this epic journey.
The convoy has covered 8,411 kilometres and in its third week it traveeled through Kazakhstan and much of Uzbeskistan, lands of Arabic and Oriental people and cultures. The Range Rover Hybrids, in their final validation test before going for production, have taken their stride a variety of punishing conditions: asphalt surfaces riddled with deep potholes and layered with small stones; mud tracks that have been dry and rutted or wet and slippery; and dusty desert trails sometimes hard as gravel and sometimes soft as sand.
While coping assuredly with such mixed terrains, in temperatures ranging from 17 to 43 degrees Centigrade, the seven vehicles have demonstrated outstanding reliability and between them suffered just one cracked windscreen and four punctures. Unlike other hybrids, the Range Rover carries a full-size spare wheel and tyre.
The hybrid vehicles is powered by a 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel engine in combination with a 47bhp electric motor have returned an impressive fuel economy, despite of being powerful and heavily loaded. Fuel Economy has been put to the test on the water-logged mud tracks of the Kalmykiya grasslands in eastern Russia, so sticky that they were impassable to other vehicles, yet the vehicles are still recording more than 40 mpg (around 14kmpl) on asphalt highways and busy urban roads through Russia and Uzbekistan.
With 29 days to go to reach Mumbai, the convoy rested on its 23rd day in Uzbekistan's capital city, Tashkent. The second half of this ambitious journey will feature the deserts, highlands and lowlands of Kyrgyzstan and China; winding tarmac roads climbing high into the thin cold air of the Himalaya mountain range; and a gradual descent through the lush greenness of Nepal to the hot plains of India. The expedition is due to enter Kyrgyzstan, the 11th of 14 countries on the Silk Trail 2013 route, two days after leaving Tashkent.