LONDON -- Jaguar Land Rover will add three new models over the next five years and gradually switch most of its vehicles to a new modular platform.
The first model will be a new-generation Land Rover Defender, arriving in the 2020-21 financial year, JLR said in a June 22 presentation to investors. Two more vehicles will be launched between 2021 and 2024, increasing JLR's model range to 16 from 13 now, according to the presentation.
The company gave no information about the models but media reports speculate that the single-model Defender may be expanded into a product family to rival Jeep.
The new models could include an entry-level Land Rover, Autocar reported. Land Rover may also launch a car-like crossover called the Road Rover, reports said. Plans for a halo model to take on the Bentley Bentayga ultraluxury SUV appear to be on the back burner for now.
JLR's new Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLA) will bring cost efficiencies by being shared across the bulk of its vehicles. Currently the automaker uses six platforms, including the D7U aluminum platform used by the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery large SUVs, and the D7A aluminum platform used by Jaguar XF and XE sedans, Jaguar F-Pace SUV and the Range Rover Velar.
The Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Jaguar E-Pace use the D8 steel platform, a heavily reworked version of a legacy Ford platform. The Jaguar XJ sedan, F-Type sports car and I-Pace EV are on unique platforms.
JLR said the shift to the new MLA platform will start in 2020, possibly meaning the first vehicle to use it will be the upcoming Land Rover Defender.
The platform would give it "increased flexibility, commonality, standardization and scale," JLR said in its presentation. The company did not mention which materials it would be built from.
Vehicles on the MLA architecture can be offered as mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full-electric vehicles, it said.
The D8 platform will underpin new small models until the 2024-25 financial year, after which the cars will switch to the MLA. Before then, JLR will update the platform, now called Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), to include plug-in hybrid and 48-volt mild hybrid models. The first model to use it will be the new Range Rover Evoque, which is expected to go on sale next year.
Improvements to this small platform will cut CO2 emissions. JLR needs to lower its CO2 emissions in Europe to 135 grams per kilometer CO2 by 2021 as part of the EU's target to reduce industrywide emissions to 95g/km by then. JLR's figure is currently stands 178g/km, the company said.
Other technologies available with the new transverse engine architecture is a "see-through," a video technology that lets the driver see the ground directly ahead of the car during off-road driving.
Jaguar Land Rover will open its first assembly plant on the European mainland in September, in Slovakia. It will start with production of the Land Rover Discovery, with a capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year. Defender production may be added later, reports ahve said, although JLR has not confirmed this.
The company posted its first quarterly loss in three years last month as Brexit and falling European diesel demand hit its vehicle sales. The company estimates that it will finish the current financial year with an EBIT margin of 3.8 percent. JLR targets a margin of 4 percent to 7 percent in the "medium term" and 7 percent to 9 percent in the "long term," it said, without giving a more exact time frame.