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

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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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  • 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.

  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.
  • RHD Welcome to TTAH/K, also known as TTAUC (The truth about used cars). There is a hell of a lot of interesting auto news that does not make it to this website.
  • Jkross22 EV makers are hosed. How much bigger is the EV market right now than it already is? Tesla is holding all the cards... existing customer base, no dealers to contend with, largest EV fleet and the only one with a reliable (although more crowded) charging network when you're on the road. They're also the most agile with pricing. I have no idea what BMW, Audi, H/K and Merc are thinking and their sales reflect that. Tesla isn't for me, but I see the appeal. They are the EV for people who really just want a Tesla, which is most EV customers. Rivian and Polestar and Lucid are all in trouble. They'll likely have to be acquired to survive. They probably know it too.
  • Lorenzo The Renaissance Center was spearheaded by Henry Ford II to revitalize the Detroit waterfront. The round towers were a huge mistake, with inefficient floorplans. The space is largely unusable, and rental agents were having trouble renting it out.GM didn't know that, or do research, when they bought it. They just wanted to steal thunder from Ford by making it their new headquarters. Since they now own it, GM will need to tear down the "silver silos" as un-rentable, and take a financial bath.Somewhere, the ghost of Alfred P. Sloan is weeping.