Land Rover's Design Boss Is Okay With the Idea of Branching Into Car-like Models

land rovers 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, 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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  • Hummer Hummer on Feb 22, 2017

    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.

  • John Horner John Horner on Feb 23, 2017

    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!

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.