Land Rover MD Phil Popham – NZ interview

October 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover will be developing cars with more appropriate technology for the market niche they are aimed at. That is the message from the company’s Managing Director, Phil Popham who popped into Auckland for lunch recently on his way to Australia from Britain.

“Our cars will be engineered appropriately for the people who buy them,” he said. “The new small Range Rover won’t be a boulder crawler, but it’s still got to be the best on road Land Rover LRX concept front cornerand off road vehicle in its class.”

That vehicle, the LRX, has been confirmed for production and will be on sale in about two year’s time. But the iconic Defender — the descendant of the original 1949 Land Rover – has to be a very 4WD capable said Mr Popham.

Making the technology appropriate for where it will be used is why Land Rover has patented its Terrain Response 4WD system. “It gives a great breadth of capability yet has benefits in everyday use too. I think we have listened to the changing demands of our customers,” said Mr Popham. “We have evolved and developed cars to meet their expectations.”

He cited the Discovery as a classic example. “It created a new 4×4 market segment 20 years ago. “More upmarket than the Defender, but below the Range Rover. It was the first 4WD with ABS and airbags and has come a long way in the last two decades. Now Terrain Response makes it very adaptable.”

While it has a quality soft feel interior it still has very good off road capability and durability.

Land Rover LRX and Series 1Mr Popham said Land Rover — Range Rover buyers will still expect a premium high specification vehicle with technology leadership in the future. “Customer research has shown they don’t want a downgraded car, but also require more fuel efficiency and sustainability. People will still want to carry or tow loads and have up to 7 passengers. There is still a place for us in the future.”

Mr Popham said reducing weight of all products in the company’s range was crucial as customers still wanted a myriad of high tech features. Land Rover was exploring all avenues of fuel saving and making its vehicles more efficient he said. “There is no silver bullet. Hybrids are only one answer but expensive.”

Stop — start technology is going into manual gearbox vehicles now, although getting it to work with automatics was harder said Mr Popham.

And the company is looking at electric vehicles. “We will have different technologies for different cars.”

Land Rover LRX rqWeight reduction and development of current petrol and turbo diesel power plants was still bringing good results said Mr Popham. The company’s fleet will have 25 percent less emissions in 2012 compared to last year, largely through development of existing technology and going on a diet.

“If we can get the weight out we can use smaller more efficient engines,” he said.

Land Rover is continuing to invest heavily in the future. The 2010 model Discovery 4, Range Rover Sport and full sized Range Rover due here at the end of the year have had 400 million pounds sterling spent on them.

“These models have better economy in basically the same architecture. When we replace them I can guarantee the new cars will be lighter and even more efficient.”

And the company has twice that sum earmarked for research and development over the next four years.

The iconic Defender is good for another four years said Mr Popham. “We can keep it legal — meeting safety and emission regulations — until 2013.”

CC News Land Rover Defender 60 Special Edition 231107And Land Rover wants to replace it. “We sell about 25,000 Defenders world wide a year. There is still consistent, strong demand for it.”

But a replacement will have to be manufactured on a more modern platform that can be shared with other models in greater volume.

With the company not dependent on any one market or region for its survival — Land Rover now sells in 165 markets — it is increasingly been perceived as a premium western brand, rather than a British marque, said Mr Popham. “Brazil, Russia, India and China have been good for us and although all have had recession in the last two years it’s all been at different times.”

China is now Land Rover’s third biggest market after Britain and the United States.

The increasing global diversification of the company saw it sell 35,000 cars in new markets in 2007 — countries that it did not compete in last century.

Land Rover’s future is assured with investment in a constantly renewed product line-up and evolving technology to meet the needs of the future, said Mr Popham.

Land Rover MD Phil Popham – NZ interview

October 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover will be developing cars with more appropriate technology for the market niche they are aimed at. That is the message from the company’s Managing Director, Phil Popham who popped into Auckland for lunch recently on his way to Australia from Britain.

“Our cars will be engineered appropriately for the people who buy them,” he said. “The new small Range Rover won’t be a boulder crawler, but it’s still got to be the best on road and off road vehicle in its class.”

That vehicle, the LRX, has been confirmed for production and will be on sale in about two year’s time. But the iconic Defender — the descendant of the original 1949 Land Rover – has to be a very 4WD capable said Mr Popham.

Making the technology appropriate for where it will be used is why Land Rover has patented its Terrain Response 4WD system. “It gives a great breadth of capability yet has benefits in everyday use too. I think we have listened to the changing demands of our customers,” said Mr Popham. “We have evolved and developed cars to meet their expectations.”

He cited the Discovery as a classic example. “It created a new 4×4 market segment 20 years ago. “More upmarket than the Defender, but below the Range Rover. It was the first 4WD with ABS and airbags and has come a long way in the last two decades. Now Terrain Response makes it very adaptable.”

While it has a quality soft feel interior it still has very good off road capability and durability.

Mr Popham said Land Rover — Range Rover buyers will still expect a premium high specification vehicle with technology leadership in the future. “Customer research has shown they don’t want a downgraded car, but also require more fuel efficiency and sustainability. People will still want to carry or tow loads and have up to 7 passengers. There is still a place for us in the future.”

Mr Popham said reducing weight of all products in the company’s range was crucial as customers still wanted a myriad of high tech features. Land Rover was exploring all avenues of fuel saving and making its vehicles more efficient he said. “There is no silver bullet. Hybrids are only one answer but expensive.”

Stop — start technology is going into manual gearbox vehicles now, although getting it to work with automatics was harder said Mr Popham.

And the company is looking at electric vehicles. “We will have different technologies for different cars.”

Weight reduction and development of current petrol and turbo diesel power plants was still bringing good results said Mr Popham. The company’s fleet will have 25 percent less emissions in 2012 compared to last year, largely through development of existing technology and going on a diet.

“If we can get the weight out we can use smaller more efficient engines,” he said.

Land Rover is continuing to invest heavily in the future. The 2010 model Discovery 4, Range Rover Sport and full sized Range Rover due here at the end of the year have had 400 million pounds sterling spent on them.

“These models have better economy in basically the same architecture. When we replace them I can guarantee the new cars will be lighter and even more efficient.”

And the company has twice that sum earmarked for research and development over the next four years.

The iconic Defender is good for another four years said Mr Popham. “We can keep it legal — meeting safety and emission regulations — until 2013.”

And Land Rover wants to replace it. “We sell about 25,000 Defenders world wide a year. There is still consistent, strong demand for it.”

But a replacement will have to be manufactured on a more modern platform that can be shared with other models in greater volume.

With the company not dependent on any one market or region for its survival — Land Rover now sells in 165 markets — it is increasingly been perceived as a premium western brand, rather than a British marque, said Mr Popham. “Brazil, Russia, India and China have been good for us and although all have had recession in the last two years it’s all been at different times.”

China is now Land Rover’s third biggest market after Britain and the United States.

The increasing global diversification of the company saw it sell 35,000 cars in new markets in 2007 — countries that it did not compete in last century.

Land Rover’s future is assured with investment in a constantly renewed product line-up and evolving technology to meet the needs of the future, said Mr Popham.



Next-gen Land Rover Defender planned

October 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover Defender SVX

There are few vehicles as iconic and as instantly recognisable as the Land Rover Defender. Boasting six decades of production, the classic boxy go-anywhere vehicle is finally due for an update, and according to the recent reports, it’s already underway and appropriately named Project Icon.

The Land Rover design team is secretly hard at work on the project, with aims to update the classic Defender with modern design principles while retaining its simple, efficient competence. Unlike most of its current peers, the new Project Icon vehicle is expected to pass on aluminum for a dependable and rugged steel chassis borrowed from the current Discovery and Range Rover Sport models.

The Project Icon truck will be most likely initially built only in England, but there are plans to send it to China, Russia, India and elsewhere in knock-down form for final assembly down the road.

Upgrading the Defender to the T5 chassis will mean independent suspension, and a choice of steel or air springs depending on the application. Power will most likely come from the company’s existing lineup of four- and six-cylinder diesels.

Tata confirms closure of one Jaguar/Land Rover plant

September 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover Defender old ext det1

When the economy declines it’s luxury vehicles that struggle most. Jaguar and Land Rover haven’t been the most profitable automakers for quite a while, and parent company Tata is about to take drastic measures to stem the blood loss. Tat is currently studying which of the two Jaguar/Land Rover plants it should shut to try and rectify some of the losses; Solihull or Castle Bromwich.

It sounds severe, but the pain of closing a plant (about 40 percent of JLR’s production overhead is going unused) could be what prevents outright failure. Production has been slowed already, while jobs have been cut and wages frozen, so word of the closing is just more bad news. But Jaguar Land Rover CEO David Smith is committed to taking “decisive actions” to see the troubled marques through.

The union, naturally, is unhappy, and a meeting will be going forward between the company and GMB officials to determine what actions might be taken on both sides.

Land Rover confirms LRX concept production

September 25th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover LRX fq

Land Rover confirmed yesterday whats been long expected that the popular LRX Concept from last year’s Detroit Auto Show is headed for production. No announcement has been made on the SUVs name when it hits the market in 2011, but it will definitely be wearing a Range Rover badge and is likely to be marketed as a premium vehicle.

No details are given yet about the upcoming model’s powertrain, but Land Rover does say it “will be the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle the company has ever produced.” Previous reports have suggested the production LRX will share underpinnings with Land Rovers’s Freelander model and will be offered with an optional all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain that will possibly use an electric motor to power the rear wheels and a conventional transverse engine driving the front wheels.

The basic shape from the LRX Concept car should be maintained, perhaps gaining a slightly more pronounced front styling.

Land Rover to debut LRX next June

August 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover is set to celebrate the first 40 years of its Range Rover line next June. To mark the occasion it is unleashing a new model that’s ready to bring its product up to date with the modern needs regarding fuel efficiency and a lower environmental impact.

The new vehicle is the Range Rover LRX, and according to reports the small Rover will see its debut in June, 2010 with the first production models rolling down the line in early 2011. Styling both inside and out is expected to stay very close to the well-received LRX concept from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show.

Based on underpinnings as the Freelander, the LRX may feature a transverse engine driving the front wheels with the first application of Land Rover’s e TERRAIN electric drive rear axle, a setup that is said to be capable of powering the rear wheels using battery power only at speeds up to 35 kph.

Land Rover to debut LRX next June

August 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Land Rover is set to celebrate the first 40 years of its Range Rover line next June. To mark the occasion it is unleashing a new model that’s ready to bring its product up to date with the modern needs regarding fuel efficiency and a lower environmental impact.

The new vehicle is the Range Rover LRX, and according to reports the small Rover will see its debut in June, 2010 with the first production models rolling down the line in early 2011. Styling both inside and out is expected to stay very close to the well-received LRX concept from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show.

Based on underpinnings as the Freelander, the LRX may feature a transverse engine driving the front wheels with the first application of Land Rover’s e TERRAIN electric drive rear axle, a setup that is said to be capable of powering the rear wheels using battery power only at speeds up to 35 kph.

Land Rover set to increase production

August 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Range Rover Sport fq

It’s hard to know what’s really happening at Tata and Jaguar Land Rover at the moment. Sales for the Jaguar XF continue steadily and the XJ looks promising but the JLR division lost £673.4 million pounds last year, and parent company Tata was also deep in the red at the end of its 2008 fiscal year. With that in mind and a so-far unfulfilled quest for financing, Tata has been busy discussing the need to shed production workers.

Now, strangely a report says that due to “forecasts of strong demand” for the refreshed Land Rover Discover and Range Rover Sport, the Solihull plant will need to increase production. Workers who’ve been on shortened hours since the March will now go back to a five-day work week. That’s good news for the employees and hopefully for Tata.

Workers at Land Rover’s Halewood plant aren’t so lucky with the Freelander factory being shut down intermittently because of low demand.