Land Rover models will always maintain their unique styling, according to design boss Gerry McGovern, despite the brand’s growing desire to make in-roads into the hunting ground of its German premium competitors.
Talking to Autocar at the reveal of the new Range Rover Velar, McGovern said: “I don’t believe that other manufacturers put as much into design as we do. It speaks volumes that both me and Ian [Callum, Jaguar design chief] sit on the board of directors at Jaguar Land Rover.
He added: “We are passionate about maintaining our uniqueness in the marketplace. We can not afford to be generic, but we also need to be universally appealing.”
While many brands, such as Audi and BMW, are accused of having generic design, it’s fair to say that Land Rover models stand out versus rivals. However, as the brand seeks to fill more segments, it will inevitably become harder for Land Rover to differentiate itself.
For example, the Velar is an SUV with a coupé roofline, and it slots into a segment that is rapidly growing. When questioned on this, McGovern commented: “You are right, there are lots of these types of models in the market. But I think this vehicle has surprised. It has a unique personality of its own.”
With Mercedes recently overtaking BMW as the premium front runner for sales, Jaguar Land Rover has long been the less obvious choice in the premium sector. So with yet another model in the range, is this the vehicle that will help Land Rover catch up? McGovern said: “We need to grow in order to strengthen ourselves in the long run. But we don’t want to be at the scale of the Germans. If we become too volume-biased, you can become generic and lose your strategy. It’s about getting economies of scale but still differentiating ourselves.”
McGovern sees qualities such as luxury, glamour and sophistication as calling cards for the Range Rover brand, which takes inspiration from other consumer products such as personal tailoring, luggage, jewellery and so on. “Nobody needs this stuff but they desire it," he said. "And there’s nothing wrong with that if we can design the cars in a sustainable way.”