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First Land Rover Discovery Sport rolls off line

Lift off: The first Land Rover Discovery Sport has gone to Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic where it will perform duties in the United States at the New Mexico Spaceport.

Discovery Sport signals a new start for Land Rover and the British auto industry.

20 Oct 2014

THE first production model of Land Rover’s Discovery Sport has rolled out of the brand’s Halewood plant in the United Kingdom, signaling the start of a new era for the brand and the British auto industry.

Land Rover's official partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic led to the new commercial spaceline taking delivery of the first vehicle.

Australians will have to wait until early next year before the 5+2-seater touches down here.

While not a direct replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued Freelander, the Discovery Sport will become the new entry point into Land Rover’s line-up and with front styling that strongly resembles the Evoque, the company said it indicates the future design direction for the model range.

An investment of $AU367.5 million in the Halewood plant was made in June by the British car-maker’s Indian parent company Tata, to support the introduction of the Discovery Sport.

Land Rover said production of the vehicle has created 250 manufacturing jobs while the impact was being felt in the British auto industry with $AU6.4 billion in contracts going to 55 suppliers in the UK.

Speaking to motoring publication Just Auto, Jaguar Land Rover director of purchasing Ian Harnett said that following the recession there was a need to localise supplier manufacturing in the UK.

“We have done some input on what we think is missing - we are trying to get input from all the OEMs not just JLR,” he said.

“We think in lots of commodities, whether it be castings and other things that have left the country, can we develop a business case to bring [them] back to the country.”

Mr Harnett said he had already negotiated with Gestamp to bring two press lines and hot stamping from the US to Wales and is working with Plastic Omnium to bring tailgate manufacturing to the UK.

“Part of the problem is we have to do it in isolation. I can’t go around the other OEMs because we have all different challenges to make,” he said.

Jaguar Land Rover said the Discovery Sport is an important milestone in what it calls a product offensive that will bring “50 significant product actions” over the next five years.

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