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JLR to grow SUV range

New trails: Land Rover says its fresh Discovery Sport marks the start of an expanding SUV range to compete in new markets.

Land Rover and Range Rover looking to fill 'white space' with expanding line-up

Land Rover logo7 Apr 2015

BRITISH all-terrain authority Land Rover will bolster its “three-family” SUV range with what it describes as “white-space vehicles” that fill gaps in the line-up with more on-road focused models.

As a long-time builder of capable off-roaders and luxurious four-wheel drives, the Tata-owned car-maker is well versed in the large end of the prestige market, but with increasing global demand for smaller SUVs, the company is branching out.

The auto-maker describes its range as falling into three “families”, consisting of Range Rover, Discovery and Defender, but future lines would create opportunities in segments the company does not currently compete.

Speaking at the New York International Auto Show, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer Gerry McGovern told Australian media there was “loads” more white space left to fill.

“Range Rover representing luxury and refinement, Discovery representing premium execution and versatile reconfigurability of seating, all that sort of stuff, and eventually the new Defender, all about the durability – gives you the ability to tune these vehicles in different ways,” he said.

“Incidentally, we are looking at other opportunities to put different types of what we call 'white-space' vehicles in there.”

The Land Rover executive would not reveal any details regarding the future additions to the line-up but did say the brand would respond to emerging trends and consumer demand in a bid to capture part of the blossoming SUV market.

“Generally our vehicles are becoming more on-road capable,” he said. “That's quite deliberate because the reality is we recognise that, while a lot of people love the notion of being able to take these vehicles off-road, a lot of people don't do that.

“By 2020 there's going to be 22 million SUV-type products sold globally. We are growing and we want to maintain a level of exclusiveness and once you get to a certain volume you might not be considered exclusive anymore, but given three families of vehicles you can maintain it.”

Despite recently rolling-out the all new Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport, Mr McGovern said the new-model activity was only just getting started, and that the range would expand with “more sexy” offerings.

“At the moment we are on what I call this journey of transformation and we’ve not long left the harbour,” he said. “You've seen an element of the Range Rover reinvention... you've seen an Evoque that was white-space, you'll see some other things that are white-space.

“We've only just started doing the new-generation Discovery, you saw that Discovery Vision concept at the show here last year and that's a good pointer of where we are taking Discovery.

“Discovery is quite polarising for a lot of consumers. They love its usability but they want it to be more premium and a certain level of comfort. I think Discovery needs to be more sexy. Everybody wants to be sexy don't they.”

In addition to the new-model arrivals, the company will also be expanding each line-up with special versions, such as highly strung variants from the Special Vehicle Operations department.

“I'm not saying no to anything because the whole reason for Special Vehicle Operations is to take all these different families and do versions on all of them,” he said. “That's the beauty of it. You'll see that operation working right through the Range Rover range, the Discoverys and eventually the Defenders.

“SVO is not about offering better. It's not a brand above a brand. It's about taking these vehicles and offering more choice. That can go from limited-edition runs of 150 down to one-off vehicles.”

Land Rover and Range Rover may even consider offering a more on-road focused or affordable two-wheel drive versions of its ranges, just as German rival BMW did with its X5 large SUV.

“If our consumers are saying they'd like that then we would be stupid not to look at it. It's about having confidence in the brand,” said Mr McGovern.

Range Rover unveiled its most powerful vehicle to date at the New York show with the SVAutobiography, Land Rover's Discovery Sport launches in Australia this week and the Range Rover Evoque convertible will also add another facet to the British brand at a yet-to-be-confirmed time.

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