The overwhelming success of the Range Rover Evoque has convinced Land Rover that the brand is onto something. Instead of offering only high-dollar, luxury SUVs for a narrow portion of the market, why not expand product offerings to cover as wide a range of potential buyers as possible?
That seems to be the logic conveyed by Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern, who recently confirmed to Autocar that the brand has plans for expansion into new market segments.
At last week’s opening of the New York Auto Show, McGovern was quoted as saying, “Land Rover will give much greater relevance to far more people in the future.” Citing the Evoque as an example, McGovern pointed out the importance of offering products that no one else has.
Those products could potentially include a smaller model to slot in below the Evoque and rival products such as the Nissan Juke. Whatcar quotes McGovern as saying that an entry-level model could even come from Land Rover instead of Range Rover.
While exterior downsizing is seen as the path forward, future models would need to retain existing levels of interior space. McGovern’s goal is for cars that are smaller on the outside, yet even bigger than current models inside the cabin.
Brand expansion seems to tie into Land Rover’s plans for the next DC-100 Concept-based Defender as well. Land Rover head John Edwards wants the Defender family to become the brand’s best-selling model, and he has the Toyota Hilux pickup firmly in his sights.
That’s an ambitious goal at the moment, since the current Defender sells just 20,000 units per year according to Autocar, compared to 549,000 units of the Toyota Hilux. Part of that gap is due to the current Defender’s narrow focus, and its exclusion from key markets like the United States.
Those concerned that future Defender models may not live up to the reputation of their ancestors needn’t worry. Land Rover is consulting with buyers in Sub-Saharan Africa about cost of ownership and ease of maintenance, which are critical factors for any utility vehicle designed for heavy-duty off-road use.
Of the new Defender’s design, Edwards says, “That it’s functional, durable and affordable are central to our thoughts.” We’ll know if the new model is on target after it debuts in 2015.