Those Americans who intend to park a Range Rover Evoque on their driveway won’t have to wait too long now. The vehicle will go on sale in just a few months time, but Land Rover has announced US-pricing for this model, which starts at US$43,995 (not including destination charges) for the four-door model with the coupe priced from US$44,995. This is easily the cheapest Range Rover model offered by its maker, and thanks to its 2.0-litre, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine, it will be economical to run. EPA figures suggest it will do 19mpg in the city, and 28mpg on the highway, which are very impressive numbers. Part of the reason it is so efficient is because thanks to weight-saving materials used in its construction, it weighs in at a mere 3680lbs.
Downunder, Phil Popham, in Australia to launch the car at the Melbourne motor show, said excitement about the Evoque is the result of careful planning. 'Our ambition was to create what we termed 'hysteria' by the time it was actually launched,' he said. 'It's captured the imagination of everyone.'
With 300,000 registrations of interest on the internet and 18,000 deposits, the plan seems to have worked. It will be the most accessible luxury model the brand makes, with a starting price in Australia just under A$50,000. Popham says that production is already sold out for six months.
The Evoque, the first entirely new Land Rover launched under Tata ownership, marks a turning point for JLR. In May, it declared a GB£1.04 billion profit on turnover of GB£9.9bn for the financial year ending in March, its first substantial result in the black after a GB£32 million pre-tax result the year before and years of red ink under Ford. The brands are beginning to repay the faith placed in them by Ratan Tata, the anglophile car-loving head of the group that paid US$2.4bn for them in 2008.
The change of ownership has been energising, but Job No 1 under Tata was simply survival through the global financial crisis, Popham says, 'It was really a struggle for an organisation that had just become independent of Ford to get through that. We focused on taking cost out of the business to protect one thing and one thing only: the product plan.'
More than 2000 workers lost jobs and the headlines were grim but JLR kept all three of its UK factories open and kept spending on development. 'Fortunately, as the world came out of recession we hit the market with the right products at the right time,' Popham is quoted as saying.
Now JLR is being touted as one of the great car industry turnarounds. It has a five-year plan to almost double sales, which leapt 26 per cent last year to just over 240,000 vehicles, and revamp its range and its image as a heavyweight when it comes to the environment. The product offensive is impressive. All its current models will be replaced, beginning with the Range Rover next year and eventually a new Defender utility vehicle. There is also speculation about a larger version of the Evoque.