Land Rover’s Design Boss Is Okay With the Idea of Branching Into Car-like Models
Call it a case of thinking out loud, or perhaps the spark that could propel a company in a new and potentially disastrous direction.
Either way, Land Rover and Range Rover’s design chief,Â Gerry McGovern, is pretty open-minded about a future where a British automaker famous for making utility vehiclesÂ â€” and only utility vehiclesÂ â€” spawns a car-like model or two. And by open-minded, we mean in a first-year university kind of way.
McGovern made the comments during a question and answer session with media today during the Land Rover Discovery launch in Utah, Car Advice reports. Speaking about the automaker’s future, he claimed that both brands have reputations solid enough to weather new models that don’t quite reach the bar set by past and present offerings.
The time has never been better to diversify products in the hope of attracting new buyers in new segments, but the automaker finds itself in an unusual position. Right now, most companies are desperately attempting to field more utility vehicles. Land Rover and Range Rover has that field covered, but the lineup doesn’t drop below the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque in terms of size, nor does it get any wilder than the latter’s let’s-see-if-this-flies convertible variant.
â€œIf you look at how other brands have come into this SUV territory, why couldnâ€™t Land Rover, Range Rover go into that territory?” McGovern asked. “The thing about Range Rover is, it has massive [brand] equity. It has equity comparable to certain fashion brands, not because itâ€™s fashionable but because of the margin.”
It’s unlikely that the automaker behind the Defender would ever consider a sedan, let alone some sort of sports car, but high-growth areas exist far down the segment ladder. Subcompact CUVs are hot, and the only British competition faced by Mercedes-Benz’s GLA comes from Mini’s Countryman.
The SUV market is “fragmenting” into new niches, McGovern said, and pursuing one of those segments could pay off. If done right, that is.
â€œWe have got a specific DNA which has evolved over the years and its about taking that DNA and those ingredients and cooking them up in a way that is absolutely relevant,” said McGovern. â€œAll the vehicles that we create now need to sell a certain volume so we can get that investment back and reinvest it in the future. We are never going to be about massive volume but we need to get to critical mass so we can sustain ourselves.â€
Assuming there are smaller, utility-minded models in Land Rover’s future, a certain level of off-roadability would help keep the automaker’s reputation more or less intact. Whether the public can handle another drop-top seems less likely.
[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]
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February 22, 2017 at 07:17AM