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Britain backs new Land Rover

Baby Landy: Land Rover's entry-level LRX will be based on this LRX concept seen in Detroit in 2008.

Government grant secures greener entry-level Land Rover

12 Mar 2009

LAND ROVER is set to produce a smaller, more fuel-efficient entry-level model after being granted £27 million ($A57.4 million) by the British government to help develop the vehicle.

To be based on the LRX concept vehicle shown at the 2008 Detroit auto show, the new sub-Freelander model will be launched in 2011, according to Britain’s department of commerce.

Total development cost for the Land Rover LRX is estimated at £400 million ($A851 million), so the government contribution amounts to only 6.75 per cent.

Nevertheless, Jaguar Land Rover managing director Phil Popham welcomed the grant, which is still subject to approval from the European Union in Brussels.

“We welcome the government’s support for this project, which would form a key part of our future product plans and which we very much want to put into production,” said Mr Popham.

Although Jaguar Land Rover is now owned by Indian car-maker Tata, the government says the grant will secure jobs at the company’s Halewood plant near Liverpool, which employs 2000 workers, and protect the country’s design and development capabilities.

Land Rover applied for the funding a number of months ago under a government scheme separate from the proposed 2.3 billion-pound ($A4.9 billion) rescue package for the British car industry announced in January.

Business secretary Peter Mandelson said it was important for the British car industry to survive and to produce more green cars such as the LRX.

“The project would secure production and employment at the Halewood facility and maintain the design capability for Jaguar Land Rover in the UK,” said Lord Mandelson.

“The government is fully committed to supporting the UK automotive industry as it moves to a lower carbon future.

“This project aims to design and build a greener car in the UK, safeguarding vital skills and technologies.” Land Rover has described the three-door LRX concept as a cross-coupe that will help define a new vehicle segment by appealing to new luxury and executive customers who want many of the benefits of a 4x4 and the visual presence of a larger vehicle, but in a more compact package.

Smaller than Freelander but claimed to be equally “premium”, the first all-new Land Rover to be revealed since Gerry McGovern became the company’s design director features new interpretations of the brand’s signature clamshell bonnet and floating roof.

It is targeted at the Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi’s proposed three-door Q3, which is expected to debut in 2010.

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