2011 brought significant change to the Land Rover brand. The influence of parent company Tata Motors has manifested through a variety of initiatives designed to breathe new life into a struggling icon, and create a solid foundation for growth in expanding markets. Reviewing a years worth of articles and stories has revealed some recurring storylines that lend insight into what’s in store for Land Rover in 2012. While many of Land Rovers new changes have been met with criticism, there appears little doubt that the company has a clearly defined strategic plan for the future. And now, the top storylines…
2011 was a rollercoaster ride for fans of what is undeniably the most popular of all Land Rovers. For a while it looked like the Defender was headed for extinction sooner than anyone had thought. A week later it was announced that the Defender would live on, but in a new, redesigned model. Then came the DC100 Concept pictures. And then the Frankfurt Auto Show. There is little to say about the DC100 and the subsequent consumer reactions and implications for the brand that has not already been said in our blog or on our Facebook page. The vehicle is polarizing (to say the least) and it has been the hottest topic we have covered in 2011. Fortunately for Rover purists, the current model Defender should stay in production for a few more years.
The launch of the Range Rover Evoque was the single most significant storyline of 2011. Given Land Rover’s enormous investment in multi-channel marketing, and the early hype bestowed upon the baby Range, it’s really little surprise that the Evoque is already enormously successful. Of course, enthusiasm surrounding the Evoque could not be sustained unless the vehicle performed as well as it claimed it. 53 awards later (including several “Car of the Year” nods) and the Evoque appears to be the real deal. Some purists still object to its styling, but frankly, those purists are in the minority. The Evoque is the first real example of what’s to come from Land Rover.
As a new model, the Evoque looks quite different from the rest of the Land Rover family. The vehicle is athletic, aerodynamic and compact, characteristics not often attributed to the rest of the Rover lineup. Despite the many obvious exterior changes of the Evoque, the greatest developments were found in the vehicle’s new technology. The Evoque features new aluminum chassis components, recycled materials, and an advanced Terrain Response system with four unique settings designed to optimize off-road drivability (General Driving (on-road and easy off-road); Grass/Gravel/Snow (slippery conditions, on- and off-road); Mud and Ruts; and Sand).
“Innovation and technology are the lifeblood of our business”
- Peter Richings, Chief Engineer for Hybrids
The Evoque’s new technology embodies Land Rover’s forward-thinking corporate strategy. Last spring, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to introduce 40 new products to market following a massive investment earmarked for research and development over the next five years. Some of Land Rover’s exciting technological developments include:
The DC100 concept and its plethora of innovative technologies which include: Terrain Response Enhancement (similar to the Evoque); Terrain-I 3D visualization, Wade Aid, Torque Vectoring, Spiked Tires and Park Assist. While only a concept, it is not unfair to believe that any or all of these technologies will some day be used across the Land Rover fleet.
Engine manufacturing seems to be on the minds of the folks at Jaguar Land Rover, with a focus on smaller, eco-friendly engines, like the four-cylinder found in the new Evoque.
If technology/development was one of Jaguar Land Rover’s corporate priorities, globalization was certainly another. 2011 saw Tata Motors-owned Land Rover expand its presence in India and China in response to both countries strong economies and prevalence of wealthy consumers.
Jaguar Land Rover has becomethe second most-popular luxury automobile in India (edging out Mercedes and sitting behind BMW), and aims to double its unit sales in 2012 (1,800 total units). To achieve this goal, Jaguar Land Rover has opened a new LR2 assembly plant in Pune, India which will help the company reduce vehicle import costs and maintain inventory levels. Jaguar Land Rover also made a very bold statement by skipping the famous North American International Auto Show in Detroit in favor of India’s New Delhi exhibition. Shifting priorities are apparent.
Let’s not forget about China. Jaguar Land Rover has taken a proactive approach in gaining a foothold in what is soon to be the largest automotive market in the world. This manifested recently in JLR’s joint venture with Chinese automotive manufacturer Chery Automobile. It will be exciting (harrowing?) to see what comes of this partnership over the next few years.
The resignation of Tata Motors Group CEO Carl-Peter Forster in mid-September was surprising, but quickly overshadowed by the debut of the DC100 at the Frankfurt Auto Show only days later. Forster is said to have been instrumental in Jaguar Land Rover’s development of new models, and the company’s recent investments in Asia two main elements (see above) in Jaguar Land Rover’s cultural change.
Speaking of cultural change, Jaguar Land Rover UK announced in November that they would replace Jaguar and Land Rover Managing Directors with one “Dual Brand Managing Director.” It will be interesting to see if this singular brand management has any noticeable manifestations over 2012 (I think it will).
Those in North America should also be on the lookout for branding change. David Pryor was named North American Brand Vice President in April after serving as Chief Marketing Officer at Porsche North America.
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