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Frankfurt show: Land Rover eyes small SUV segment

Crossover: If Land Rover breaches the small-SUV segment, it would have an offering to sit below the enormously popular Discovery Sport model that launched this year.

‘Opportunities’ for expanding Land Rover range with focus on smaller models

Land Rover logo17 Sep 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER in FRANKFURT

LAND Rover's expansion into more specific and targeted segments is continuing with the British car-maker considering a small SUV competitor as a potential new addition to the green oval range.

The company’s recent sub-division and rebranding has allowed the Land Rover and Range Rover marques to breach new territory, such as the Discovery Sport range and Range Rover Sport model line-up, but the smaller end of the SUV market is as yet unconquered.

Land Rover has an established large and upper-large luxury SUV range, but a more compact offering alongside the existing models would bolster the high-rider line-up, taking the fight to premium small-SUV models from the three big German players.

Speaking at the global unveiling of Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer Gerry McGovern told GoAuto that the flourishing small-SUV segment was of interest to the company.

“If you look at the world of SUVs, that’s a market that’s expanding beyond belief,” he said. “By 2020 there will be over 22 million SUV-type vehicles sold globally and although we use that term generically, we know it’s fragmenting to all kinds of niche products and therein lies the opportunity for us.

“In terms of smaller vehicles why not? It’s a case of deciding which ones we want to do because, as we go through this transformation, we will replace our traditional vehicles and we will look at ways to stretch and grow the brand like Evoque did, so it’s all up for grabs at the moment.

“We’re on a journey of transformation and there are lots of other opportunities so it will be a case of developing other opportunities.”

Just as Jaguar Land Rover has sought out other potential luxury segments such as the mid-sized sedan market with its XE, a move into smaller SUVs would pitch Land Rover against popular European models such as the Audi Q1, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Mr McGovern said that even a significant detachment from the traditional Land Rover portfolio was a possibility and, when asked if a non-SUV model may materialise, answered “why not?”“I didn’t say yes, I said why not,” he said. “I think Evoque proved that Land Rover has a lot of stretch – it brought in 80 per cent new customers to the brand that would have never considered the brand before because it was too polarising.

“A lot of our vehicles have become more on-road capable and are equal in terms of off-road ability and on-road refinement so you might argue it’s a natural progression.”

Just as Jaguar has freshly introduced its F-Pace SUV that could potentially compete in Range Rover’s market, Land Rover could be pondering a more on-road vehicle to sit alongside Jaguar’s luxury sedans.

Mr McGovern went on to reiterate that the company has a clear focus Down Under and still regards Australia as a key market.

“From a Land Rover and Jaguar perspective, Australia has always been an important market to us and a market we hold very dearly. We like Australia.”

Despite the continual focus on potentially new segments, Mr McGovern said the recent sub-branding would not see further fragmentation for now.

“Our strategy is simple. Land Rover is the master brand with three distinct families within it Range Rovers, Discoverys and Defenders. That’s it.”“You’ll see in the future, those expanding as markets change but those are the three families.”

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