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Land Rover spreads its wings

On the up: Landie sales will increase by a quarter by the end of 2014 thanks, in part, to the strong selling Range Rover Sport.

Conquering new markets with an expanded portfolio is key to Land Rover growth

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Land Rover logo5 Nov 2013

LAND ROVER is set to grow sales by up to 25 per cent to a record 400,000 units by the end of next year, based on strong performances from new releases such as the Range Rover Sport, as well as increased factory capacity to keep up with high demand.

With the next-generation Freelander, Discovery, Defender and others in the pipeline – including a new baby crossover to slip below the successful Evoque – the Tata Motors-owned British marque is set to enjoy the biggest growth spurt in its 65-year history.

Helping to sustain this will be a production boost coming from the key Chinese market, where models such as the Range Rover line-up are attracting waiting times of between six and nine months.

India and Saudi Arabia are also said to be under investigation for Land Rover manufacturing as the brand moves to decentralise away from its traditional British and American customer heartlands.

Land Rover sales were up 36 per cent for calendar year 2012, approaching the 300,000 mark on the back of Evoque breaching the 100,000 unit mark for the first time, as well as interest generated around the all-new Range Rover. China is number one globally, followed by Britain and the United States, with Russia and Germany closely behind.

According to Jaguar Land Rover Australia operations manager Chris Lidis, the next five years will be one of the busiest times in the company’s history.

“We are looking at sales reaching 400,000 units in the next 12 months,” he told GoAuto at the L494-series Range Rover Sport launch in Tasmania last week.

“It will be driven by a couple of things. We’re certainly expanding production capability, with a factory that is ramping up in China. And China has become one of our big growth markets.

“In the next 12 months we’ll see China get close to about 100,000 units, assisted by their local production capacity.

“Plus we’re looking at other options as well. (Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific managing director) David Blackhall is looking at an ASEAN solution as well, so we are looking at (boosting production capacity) opportunities around the world.

“And on top of that we’ve got the investment in new product such as the Range Rover Sport, and there are a few other things in the next four or five years that will come through. So we’ll have a product-led recovery and new capacity opening up as well.”

The new-model wave comes as Land Rover divides its range into three distinct sub-groups – Luxury (Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover Evoque), Leisure (Discovery, Freelander) and Dual Purpose (Defender).

Next year Australians will see the newly unveiled full-sized Range Rover long-wheelbase version after a 20-year absence, as well as diesel-electric hybrid versions of both that and the Sport.

A revised Evoque is also in the wings, with a nine-speed automatic transmission, new-generation driver assistance technology, enhanced media/audio connectivity, and an updated all-wheel-drive system that is said to improve the vehicle’s off-road capability.

On the all-new front, it has been widely speculated that the Discovery 5 (in Australia from late next year or in early 2015) will usher in the ‘Discovery’ sub-brand that will encompass both the direct replacement for the seven-seater wagon, as well as the nine-year-old Freelander series.

The latter is thought to use a reworked version of the Evoque’s EUCD Ford Mondeo-based platform, while the larger upmarket Discovery 5 variants will most likely use the PLA premium lightweight platform underpinning the Range Rover duo.

Below that, the sub-Freelander B-segment crossover is rumoured to be under top-priority development with Tata’s new partner Chery of China, using shortened Evoque hardware to help create a compact, entry-level Land Rover range.

Designed to lure younger buyers away from rivals such as the Mini Countryman and upcoming Audi Q1, the baby SUV – if it receives the green light – will be one of the recipients of Jaguar Land Rover’s vaunted new-generation AJ-200 four-cylinder engine family destined for most of the British marques’ wares.

Finally, still on Evoque-based future models, some reports out of Europe suggest Land Rover wants to fill the gap between the Evoque and Sport in the Range Rover portfolio with an ‘XL extra large Evoque’.

While no specific new-model details were divulged, Mr Lidis revealed that Land Rover would continue to diversify as market forces dictated.

“What we will be looking for is to not only keep the current nameplates fresh and up-to-date, but to also look for new niche segments we currently don’t play in,” he said.

“We want to try to understand what the opportunities are, and to try to make the business sense out of diversifying our range.”

According to Land Rover brand manager Tim Krieger, the marque is well on its way to being a truly international brand.

“I think the key is that Land Rover is now dependent not just on one or two markets,” he said.

“We want to have a balanced portfolio of sales opportunities. JLR has historically been a UK-focussed organisation, but now we’ve becoming a grown-up car company focussing on emerging markets, and not just China but countries like Brazil, some ASEAN markets and Korea.

Land Rover’s new-model line-up
Range Rover Sport IINOW
Land Rover Freelander 42014
Land Rover Discovery 52015
Land Rover compact crossover2016
Land Rover Defender 22016
Range Rover Evoque ‘XL’2016

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