Land Rover to Ditch the Name after 75 Years of Use

What a Land Rover should be doing…

The Land Rover brand name, one of the most iconic names in the off-road world, is being dropped after 75 years as Jaguar Land Rover (aka JLR) plans a major reboot. Frankly, this seems to be automotive heresy to this writer.

JLR is once again in the red, making losses that are not sustainable as the parent company, TATA of India, is also in financial trouble. As a result of this, JLR will split the Coventry-based company into four business units with JLR acting as a holding company and none of the new business units carrying on with the Land Rover brand name.

The four new units will be known as Range Rover, Defender, Discovery and Jaguar, with the latter dropping all of its current models and planning to reinvent itself with an all-new three model product range. Perhaps a little confusing is the intention to still use some small decals of the Land Rover badge to denote what the company calls a customer ‘trust mark’. Sounds like someone is hedging their bets to me.

According to the Chief Creative Officer, Jerry McGovern, JLR still loves the name Land Rover but it does not have the same level of equity as the Range Rover name nor the up-and-coming Defender marque. Apparently, people will say they drive a Range Rover and not a Land Rover and thus the company should capitalise on this.

For me, it seems like the brand is completely ditching their heritage. Land Rovers have been around since the Rover Engineering Director, Roy Wilkes, drew the basic outline on a beach in Red Wharf Bay Anglesey, Wales, in 1947.

The 60th Anniversary recreation of the original sketch. A bit bigger than the original.

The Land Rover was launched a year later at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. This humble ‘farm’ vehicle became known as the Series 1, with its 80-inch wheelbase, a wheezy 50bhp 1.6-litre engine and a price of GBP450, it became a countryside staple and a global workhorse. Over the years, the Landy has become loved by successive generations of farmers, military, Royalty (QEII had one) and, of course, well used as a Chelsea Tractor. Early Series 1s are now very highly sort after.

According to JLR marketing materials, approximately 75% of all Landies ever built are still on the road. To me, that is a statistic you shouldn’t mess with. But mess they did. As far back as 2016, the old ‘farm’ vehicle was discontinued and replaced by the Defender. Ostensively, this was because the old sharp-edged body fell foul of EU rules—a good reason for Brexit then.

In its place came the more softly styled Defender, with enough styling cues to make us think it was an evolution and not a revolution, and of course a clean bill of health from the EU spoil sports. Softer styling but same off-road capability, we are led to believe. The brand is no longer marketed as a work machine but as a lifestyle statement aimed at drivers who want to conquer the urban jungle. In the UK, a 4X4 that is used for the school run is known as a Chelsea Tractor and a recent survey found that 75% of SUVs are used just for that…

Probably how most of the new Defenders will be used…

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