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Joint venture resurrects Freelander name

Chery and JLR reported to be combining efforts for launch of electrified Freelander

25 Jun 2024

NEWS has surfaced of plans to resurrect the Freelander name in a range of China-built electrified vehicles through a longstanding joint venture between Jaguar Land Rover and China’s state-owned Chery Automobile Company.  
The Freelander was a medium SUV produced by Land Rover from 1997 to 2015 and subsequently rebranded Discovery Sport. 
The Chery Jaguar Land Rover JV (CJLR) has existed for 12 years and plans to build the new Freelander electrified models for global consumption on architecture supplied by Chery, which currently builds the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace and long-wheelbase versions of the XF and XE sedans in China. 
Resurrection of the Freelander brand will see the JV partners “strengthen” their product offering with the new models coming out of Chery’s Changshu plant in eastern China. 
British publication Autocar reports JLR as saying: “The new model of collaboration leverages fully both parties' complementary strengths with Chery holding a leading automotive market position in China while JLR has unrivalled heritage and design strength – creating mutually beneficial prospects for the future.” 
The JV plans to market Freelander vehicles initially in China “independent from both Chery’s existing portfolio and JLR’s modern luxury House of Brands”. 
Autocar says JLR will still launch electric Land Rover models for other global markets using the MLA and EMA modular platforms, and Jaguar will introduce a new line of all-electric luxury cars using the bespoke JEA platform. 
Without divulging details, JLR says electrified Freelanders will be exported globally “over time” and will be designed and engineered for the mainstream market translated to “lower cost” or “more affordable” compared to other JLR models. 
Speculation as to Freelander specs suggest it may be on the M3X platform shared with Chery’s premium brand Exeed, which has a new model launch agenda focusing initially on Europe next year. 
The M3X platform was developed with input from Canadian parts manufacturer Magna International, the structure used for the Exceed RX and the Chery Fulwin T10 SUVs. 
It was designed to cater to both petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains and is a chance to underpin the new Freelander that Autocar says may run Chery’s latest 'Super Hybrid' petrol-electric drivetrain with two electric traction motors integrated into the gearbox combining with a petrol engine and a large-capacity battery for a claimed electric-only range of 160km. 
However, also in contention for the electrified Freelander range is another architecture called E0X that is designed for battery electric and range-extender drivetrains utilising an 800V system with front-, rear- and all-wheel drive compatibility. 
Autocar reveals that both architectures, M3X and EOX “have a variable wheelbase and can be used for both crossovers and lower-slung models, but JLR has yet to confirm whether Freelander will remain an SUV-only brand”. 
No doubt influencing CJLR’s decisions is a response to growing extended-range EV (E-REV) popularity in the Chinese market, which may put greater relevance on Chery's range-extender (REx) powertrain.  
Autocar reports JLR CEO Adrian Mardell as saying: "Today we are taking this important strategic step for JLR, one which underlines our ongoing commitment to China and complements our existing business in China. 

"We believe that working together to develop new models of collaboration for the world’s largest and fastest-growing electric vehicle market, combined with the appeal of the Freelander brand, promises a very exciting future for CJLR.”

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