Landing a $56m lifeline
Government funds back a baby Land Rover, writesMARKHINCHLIFFE
THE British Government could be funding a landmark new Land Rover. It has thrown another lifeline to its troubled motor industry and the $56.7 million cash grant is being used to decide if there is a future for the off-road specialist’s Range Rover LRX concept car.
The baby Land Rover is much more than just a smooth new compact, because it’s intended to take the brand out of the bush and into the suburbs in the same way as the latest generation of Jeeps.
The LRX concept has been displayed at several major motoring events, including last year’s Melbourne Motor Show, to test public acceptance for its design and the idea of a soft-roader with a Land Rover badge.
Now the cash grant is being used to see if the LRX has a production future after the company was sold to TATA Motors of India.
It will still cost more than $800 million to put the LRX on the road, but Land Rover Australia spokesman Guido Schenken says the early signs are positive.
‘‘They are going to investigate the product to see if it’s viable, so they are still a long way down the track,’’ Schenken says.
Land Rover’s chief designer Julian Thomson admitted in Melbourne last year that the exterior of the LRX concept car is close to a production design and Schenken says the LRX plan is moving along.
The LRX is shorter and lower than a Freelander, and is designed to take on compact crossovers such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, BMWX3 and the forthcoming Mercedes GLK.
Schenken says Land Rover is investigating a diesel hybrid as well as conventional engines for the new model.