Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern has played a key role in the brand's current success. Since taking the job in 2006, he has created so-called "white space" models to close key gaps in the SUV specialist's lineup. One example is the Range Rover Evoque, which became the Land Rover's best-selling model soon after its 2011 debut. Another is the new Range Rover Velar. McGovern explained why Land Rover sees additional opportunities to expand the brand’s portfolio during an interview with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
How does the new Velar fit into the Range Rover lineup?
One aspect is its scale. For some people the Range Rover Evoque is a bit too compact and the Range Rover Sport is a bit too big. But [the Velar] is also a Range Rover with a different twist, with a more road-orientated emphasis. It's offering people more choice in an SUV market that’s growing disproportionately. It's certainly made the connection with people, judging by the reaction.
How important is price and size when trying to differentiate your models?
If you're in a Range Rover Sport you're sitting higher [in price]. You're lower in the Range Rover Velar, you're a bit more compact and it's less overt. A brand like ours has this ability to stretch. I would argue you could have two Range Rovers that are exactly the same size but if they had two personalities then they've both got equal appeal but to different customers.
Does that allow you to reposition the Range Rover or Range Rover Sport?
It could but we have a strong customer base for Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. No other manufacturer sells that volume of vehicles at that price point in that market sector.
Could you create a vehicle that could go up against the Bentley Bentayga?
Would you want to?
Why not? If you look at Range Rover it has a broad price range from 76,000 pounds ($86,200) up to 176,000 pounds. Clients can then come to our SVO [special vehicle operations] division to create a truly bespoke Range Rover that can move the price above 200,000 pounds, so it's not a very big step to get into Bentayga territory. What we have is the pedigree and authenticity in that sector. That's what we're renowned for. We’ve got the unquestionable pedigree, so why wouldn't we do it?