By on February 22, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery

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, Gerry McGovern, is pretty open-minded about a future where a British automaker famous for making utility vehicles — and only utility vehicles — 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.

“If you look at how other brands have come into this SUV territory, why couldn’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 it’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.

“We 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. “All 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.”

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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9 Comments on “Land Rover’s Design Boss Is Okay With the Idea of Branching Into Car-like Models...”

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “We 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.

    It was called ROVER. Because you took the LAND part off.

    Also, you have Jaguar.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, “Land Sterling” wasn’t gonna sell.

      Of course, neither did Sterling. But they did fall apart nicely.

    • 0 avatar

      And most of us know how well Rover worked out. Gave a whole new meaning to “The English Patient.”

      Besides, do you still own the car name, or did that goes to the Chinese. (Yep, I know about Roewe – just not sure if there a legal problems with the Rover name.)

  • avatar

    The new Discovery does look eerily like a Saab 9-5 wagon.

  • avatar

    So Land Rover launch the Velar, replace the Evoque and then build a new range of Defenders. Then after they have secured just about every SUV niche they can they invade the premium cross over and car sectors. To be fair they are simply going home to where the Rover company started. Once upon a time they owned the premium car sector in the U.K. why not go back there? If Porsche and Bentley can make SUVs then I’m sure its possible for Range Rover to make a premium car

  • avatar

    Despite their widespread rep for Yugo levels reliability, these LRs seem to be proliferating in our suburbs as fast as squirrels and rabbits.

    Apparently being a favored ride of the Kardashian fleet pays major dividends.

  • avatar

    No wonder RR has a reputation for poor reliability, their management is f***ing retarted.

    The company currently doesn’t offer a single off-road vehicle, every vehicle is car-like or designed completely off of a car based architecture. I mean are we talking a sports car like car? A Subaru type car? Doesn’t general statistical trends indicate those markets are dying?

    How much further can they make their vehicles car-like? Specific DNA my behind.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Mercedes, BMW and Porsche have all very successfully and profitably built vehicles seemingly at odds with their traditional market niches. Self styled brand purists moan and groan, but the business does just fine.

    Land Rover has room to expand!

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