Land Rover has started work on a new entry-level SUV, according to recent reports on Indian TV. CNBC-TV said that the new model would be aimed primarily at ‘emerging markets’ such as India and China.
Although the engineering work is taking place in the UK, a number of Tata engineers are said to be involved in the project. The car was described as the ‘smallest’ SUV yet from the company, and that it would have an engine of ‘around a 2.0-litre’ capacity.
This project may well be the “white space product”described earlier this year by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern. He told Autocar that the vehicle would help push Land Rover into new markets. There’s no news on how it might look, but the DC100 concept could provide inspiration.
This future model may also be built in India and use components which are substantially sourced from India. Reports in the UK press today quote a source as saying JLR is ‘actively exploring the possibility of building cars from scratch in India’.
It would make sense that a new entry-level model, designed primarily to break into emerging markets, would be made locally. Indeed, JLR is thought to be planning to build a copy of its new Wolverhampton engine factory in India.
The model could also be the basis of a three-way co-operation with owners Tata and Chinese partners Chery. The same basic platform and running gear could be used to underpin cheaper Tata and Chery SUVs, while the Land Rover version could be plusher and more upmarket.
However, if Land Rover is pushing for serious volume growth, it could also re-export the car to Europe, where the market for entry-level SUVs is booming. Certainly, Land Rover and its dealers would benefit from a compact model priced against upper-end versions of the Mk3 Mini, whose line up is expected to include a proper SUV.