Land Rover are unveiling the company’s third all-new Range Rover in 31 years with a launch at the Design Museum in London.
Industry analysts will be keen to see if the vehicle can retain and improve market share in the face of stiff competition from Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. The Range Rover, to be revealed on Wednesday evening, goes on sale in the UK in February 2002 with a price tag expected to be around £50,000.
The first Range Rover, launched in 1970, was later exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris after being classified as a piece of sculpture. The task facing Land Rover in a highly competitive market is alluded to by Land Rover chief executive Bob Dover who said the vehicle retained “all the distinctive Range Rover styling cues”.
“It is essential that people instantly recognise the new vehicle as a Range Rover,” he said. The interior of the car is said to be styled on Italian motor launches of the 1950s, with an emphasis on wood laminate, brushed aluminium and leather.
Since being taken over by Ford, the American parent has pumped more than £100m into the Lode Lane site in Solihull, where Land Rover make the vehicle. A new production line at the plant will produce the Range Rover for export to more than 120 countries.
The opposition comes from Mercedes’ M-class, BMW’s X5 and top-of-the-range models from Lexus. The vehicle was already on the drawing board when BMW owned Rover and Wolfgang Reitzle was the company’s chairman before being ousted after 18 months.
Dr Reitzle is currently chairman of Jaguar, which is also owned by Ford.