Land Rover design boss, Gerry McGovern, says Land Rover is going through a transition phase, and the desire is to create products that are less specialised. Apart from out-and-out sports cars, there appears to be no boundaries to where the British 4×4 manufacturer can take the brand.
“Of course, we’re very respectful of that heritage, but we’ve also got to be really careful that we’re not harnessed by it, because the world is changing rapidly and like other manufacturers, we are facing massive challenge and need to be flexible.
Land Rover is actively looking at new opportunities to enter new areas of the auto business they’ve not previously been in. The all-new Range Rover Velar is certainly one of those vehicles that has effectively widened the SUV category.
“One of the great things about the design of Velar is the really long, elegant wheelbase against what is a relatively long vehicle for its overall size. It looks beautifully planted. And although it sits above Evoque and under Range Rover Sport, it’s not a smaller version of one, or a bigger version of the other, it’s got its own unique personality.
“It’s not like any other Range Rover we’ve ever seen, but you can see our DNA in it from things like the continuous beltline, floating roof and the overall level of visual robustness for example”, McGovern said.
He also talked about creating new products in non-SUV segments, in the same way that traditional luxury saloon brands such as Bentley and Maserati (with Rolls-Royce on the way) have moved into the SUV category and are having plenty of success. Conversely, pure sports car brands like Lamborghini and Aston Martin are diving head-first into the SUV market, with even Ferrari now talking about a crossover vehicle.
“We’re also excited to be looking at areas Land Rover hasn’t been in before. We need to do that because the industry is facing some major challenges at the moment from urbanisation, legislation, digitalisation, electrification and taxation – what’s Brexit going to mean to us as a business. But there’s also the question of future vehicle ownership and autonomous driving. What’s that going to mean for us.
“I think the brand can go even further when it comes to more car-like vehicles. I’ve been in the business quite a while now, but I’ve never been as excited as I am now. Along with some significant challenges, there are some massive opportunities.
“Land Rover as a brand has the ability to create scale, to do lots of things people wouldn’t expect us to do. Because most of the other manufacturers have moved into our territory. But we have still that established heritage and we’re still the best in our off-road ability and we’ve got that authenticity.
“We can use that authenticity to do other things – the most capable vehicles in an urban environment, for example”, explained McGovern.
While the next-generation Defender is still a year or two away, it could also herald a return to the commercial sector for Land Rover. Over the years, the company has lost out to the likes of Mercedes-Benz, which has been supplying trucks, as well as commercial versions of its G-Wagon.
“I’m not saying commercial vehicles is a path we’re really considering at Land Rover, but I think the Defender range is where we can instil a strong sense of visual functionality”, he added.