The overwhelming disapproval of Land Rover’s new concept Defender - the DC100 – swept over the blogosphere in a matter of seconds. The new styling showed a drastic departure from the rugged, box-shaped vehicle that had served as an international symbol for the Land Rover brand. “It’s a Kia Soul!” has been one of the most popular (and humorous) characterizations of the new design – something Land Rover should not be thrilled with.
Fortunately, Land Rover acknowledges the tremendous responsibility that comes with replacing an icon, and has solicited consumer feedback based on the most recent design images. A new concept Defender is set to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2012, but based on the harsh public response, the model on display in Germany may not be the same vehicle that makes it to production in 2015.
“This isn’t a production concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century” – Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Director of Design
Despite the appeal to the public, the launch of the new Evoque and the new marketing strategy that accompanied it signal a drastic shift in Rover philosophy. The new Defender may not end up looking like a Kia Soul, but it probably won’t look much like the present Defender models either. When discussing the development of the new Range Rover Evoque, Colin Green, Land Rover’s managing director noted:
“The design has led the package, rather than the functionality leading the design.”
Land Rover contends that a continued focus on design will not compromise its vehicle’s functionality. Perhaps not – but a shift in core values will change the Land Rover brand. With ownership determined to increase sales and global presence, a branding change appears to be exactly what Land Rover is looking for.
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