Land Rover to Expand Range
Western Mail - March 11, 2003
Radical plans to transform Land Rover's image - including the possibility of a baby four-wheel-drive vehicle - were unveiled by the company's new boss at this week's Geneva Motor Show.
The proposals include another new car placed beneath the Range Rover to rival the BMW X5, as well as an overhaul of Land Rover operations across the globe.
Speaking at the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, only the day after taking over as managing director of Land Rover, Matthew Taylor said he planned to build on the company's success by broadening its appeal.
"There are gaps that can be identified in what we offer at the moment and we should look at ways of filling these," said Mr Taylor. "These are between the Discovery and the Range Rover and, in the future, below the Freelander.
"But whatever we do, people can be assured that anything we produce will be true to Land Rover qualities as the world's leading manufacturer of four-wheel-drive vehicles."
Mr Taylor stressed that any plans for such a baby Land Rover were well into the future in the company's thinking, although it is understood that a "sporty" version of the Discovery could be on the cards in the not too distant future.
The Solihull company is already about to revamp its top-selling Freelander range later this year, and an all-new Discovery is due for launch in 2004.
Mr Taylor, who was appointed managing director in a recent management restructuring across Ford's Premier Automotive Group operations in the UK, said emphasis also needed to be placed on Land Rover's worldwide activities. That was likely to lead to a scaling down of its operations in South America and parts of Africa, while it concentrated on its key markets in the UK, North America and in Europe. "We have enjoyed three years of record sales in the UK and we must keep up that momentum. We also need to grow in the US and in the six leading European markets of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands."
A major review of Land Rover's US operations has been carried out, with new dealers being appointed.
"We have also taken steps to tackle pricing inequalities across Europe in recent years as well as improving our parts service," said Mr Taylor.
Other areas of growth for the company could include expanding its operations in the Far East, where Land Rovers are already built in kit form. He said that under the ownership of Ford, who acquired Land Rover from BMW two years ago, the company was now in a good position to expand, with production facilities at its factory in Solihull improved, and a research centre created at Gaydon in Warwickshire.
"We have had to address quality issues in our vehicles and that has been done. Now that must be carried forward into our next generation of vehicles," he said.
Mr Taylor added that the American crossover concept of four-wheel-drive estate cars was not an option for Land Rover, and all of its future vehicles would have traditional Land Rover characteristics of being world-beating off-roaders while driving with car-like qualities.
Mr Taylor, 42, who was Land Rover's sales and marketing director before his current appointment, joined the company three years ago having previously worked for Ford in Australia.
(C) 2003 Western Mail.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....