Land Rover Will Stick an SUV in Whatever Part of Its Lineup It Wants and Price It Based on "Personality"

land rover will stick an suv in whatever part of its lineup it wants and price it

It’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief.

2017 is a year of significant transition for the Land Rover, as the LR4 is replaced by the Discovery and the Velar steps in to fill a gap on the dance floor between the Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and Discovery, hoping to avoid stepping on any toes. The sales picture is consequently not particularly rosy. In the U.S., Land Rover volume is down 2 percent this year following 2016’s record performance.

But the brand’s momentum is obvious. Year-to-date, sales of the Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover are all rising. Collectively, the quartet is up 11 percent in a market that has slowed in seven consecutive months.

Moreover, the high-end Range Rover portion of the Land Rover brand accounts for three-quarters of the brand’s sales. And the best-selling member of the three-engined Range Rover lineup? Not the diesel, not the supercharged V6, but the supercharged V8 that commands a $18,245 premium over base Range Rovers.

Those who doubt Land Rover’s ability to squeeze a model into a gap need look no further than the Range Rover Evoque. Less spacious than the Discovery Sport but significantly more costly, Land Rover USA has reported 68,160 Evoque sales since 2011. Even in old age, there’s a chance 2017 will be its best year ever.

Reach further back to 2005 and remember how odd it seemed that Land Rover would bring the Range Rover brand downmarket with an LR3-based Range Rover Sport.

The Range Rover Sport is Land Rover USA’s best-selling model.

Now it’s the Range Rover Velar’s turn to prove that Land Rover can succeed when it does as it pleases. If the Range Rover Sport was originally intended to be the road-focused Land Rover, the Range Rover Velar has usurped control of that position.

Following the Velar, it will be the Defender’s turn to once again exert’s Land Rover’s historic off-road proposition. But that hardly sounds as though that will be the end. McGovern sees Land Rover as two families: Range Rover and Discovery. “For me, a family is more than two and with Discovery we’ve only got two vehicles,” McGovern says, “so there are a lot of opportunities.”

Velar. Defender. Another member of the Disco tribe. And beyond?

“There’s a lot of talk that in 25 years kids won’t have a desire to drive a car, that people won’t own cars any more,” McGovern says. “Nobody is talking much about the fact that people have a visceral desire to own vehicles that they enjoy and that resonate on an emotional level.”

McGovern, who previously worked at Chrysler, Peugeot, and Lincoln-Mercury, believes design will set Land Rover apart. “Design is the glue.”

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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2 of 8 comments
  • 30-mile fetch 30-mile fetch on Aug 17, 2017

    I know where that second photo is taken. A $2000/night minimum resort for celebutards and other incomprehensible 0.01 percenters in the sun-blasted hellscape that escapes the affection of even a desert-lover like me. It photos well until you drive past it on the highway and see how close it is to a poor rural hamlet and the ugly outlying houseboat storage yards for Lake Powell. Fitting place to photo that piece of six-figure bling.

  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Aug 17, 2017

    None for me, thanks. A woman I know had three Discos in a row. Of the three only one of them wasn't constantly in the shop as it burned itself down to the frame in a Vancouver car park before much else could go wrong. My sister had an Autobiography that she bought used while working the night shift. It lasted a year before being resold as it was, yep, unreliable.

  • 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.