Jaguar Land Rover is bringing over 800 journalists from every continent to Liverpool this month to test drive the Halewood-built Range Rover Evoque. While JLR refuses to say how much it's spending, it’s probably costing JLR a significant seven figure sum to pull off this media coup, but the result is images of Liverpool appearing everywhere. JLR spokesman Neil Roscoe believes it’s the first time a new car has been launched in the place where it is manufactured.
The journalists, in groups of up to 30, are arriving by air at RAF Valley on Anglesey to get behind the wheel of an Evoque for a sat-nav programmed route taking in the mountain passes of Snowdonia, the Denbigh Moors and finishing in Liverpool.The route takes them around the city centre, and then comes a novel twist, he cars, each worth between £30,000 and £40,000 head to Edge Hill where they disappear into the long disused Wapping Tunnel. The long tunnel, the world’s first to be built beneath a metropolis, opened in the 1830s to link the emerging dockland with the world’s first inter-city railway. In the tunnel drivers negotiate boulders, angled ruts and a deep flooded section – at one point the car’s headlights dip beneath the surface – until after 2300 metres of uphill driving, the drivers emerge from the pitch-black tunnel close to Wapping. From there they head for the Albert Dock system before completing their test-run at the Hope Street Hotel, ready to be fed and watered courtesy of the London Carriage Works.
The signs of the Evoque's potential success are encouraging; there are already over 20,000 orders, mostly from people who haven’t seen it or test driven it. It means an order book for Halewood worth around £700m and guarantees the future of the Halewood plant for years and, along with it, thousands of production jobs and even more in the supply chain.