Remarks by Charles R. Hughes President, Land Rover North America, Inc.
5 January 1999Remarks by Charles R. Hughes President, Land Rover North America, Inc. 1999 North American International Auto Show January 5, 1999 9:30 am
DETROIT, Jan. 5 -- The following remarks were delivered today by Charles R. Hughes, President, Land Rover North America, Inc., at the 1999 North American International Auto Show: (CRH reads copy of Wall Street Journal ad.) So we have come to you. With something we are very proud of. It incorporates 50 years of knowledge and more than 100 countries worth of experience. It is not a charade. It is not pretending to be something. It is something. It's a Land Rover. The real thing! The shape is familiar. It is strong, purposeful and friendly. The technology is all-new -- a dramatic change from all Land Rovers before it. A clear step above all other compact sport utility vehicles. As many of you know, this fall the Discovery won the 1998 J.D. Power APEAL award for best compact sport utility with proven but aging technology. After all, the design is more than 10 years old. We don't change our vehicles often, but when we do: Watch out. The new Series II marries never before seen technology with a keen insight as to how technology can help fulfill our owners' desires. Insight into how advanced technology can push both the on-road and off- road performance envelope, simultaneously. Insightful because of the way we incorporated feedback from our owners as to how they use their vehicles ... in so many different places and in so many different ways. To test the new Discovery, we drove it once around the world. Once around the world perhaps it is the only proper entrance for an all-new Land Rover. Once around the world, and apart from flat tires and two traffic mishaps -- one with a truck in India, the other in Mexico, with a bull -- a flawless first act. A sincere thanks to Bill Baker and his crew for organizing this campaign. A job well done, Bill. And an adventure in the spirit of Land Rover. Of course, for Land Rover, an around-the-world test drive might be considered more of a market tour, a chance to visit all the places where Land Rovers are sold. A Land Rover in eastern Pakistan? Not exactly exotic -- they've been there for a long time. In fact, Land Rover have been all over the world for more than 50 years. This is the proving ground we use to create Land Rovers. At Land Rover, we understand our success was built on capability. It is the green in our blood. And it is a claim we wouldn't base on a series of artificial tests -- tests performed in Southern California by a company paid to make us look good. At Land Rover, we judge a vehicle by its ability to cover a piece of ground. A piece of ground like, say, planet Earth. At its heart, a Land Rover must go anywhere and do anything. Because Land Rovers are sold everywhere and asked to do everything. Each trek is personal, each adventure custom ... to the Land Rover owner. This myriad of needs is what a Land Rover must be ready for. ...like the autobahns of Germany. Or as police cruisers on the motorways of England. The straight, smooth and fast -- that takes European know-how, and a good suspension. The suspension beneath the Discovery Series II is all-new. The track is over two inches wider. The vehicle is lower and more comfortable at higher speeds. It's also quieter. Any trek ... like the two-lane roads that twist and weave through the mountains of eastern Turkey. The Series II's optional Active Cornering Enhancement is a patented, award winning innovation that, as Discovery Product Director Nick Fell says, allows the Series II to "do that sports car thing." ACE uses smart anti-roll bars to counteract lean as it happens. With ACE, everything you thought you understood about sport-utility ride and handling you can now forget. Any trek ... like the traffic in Calcutta. The Series II has more power and torque -- thanks in part to a Bosch engine management system. There is a new electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission, which is quicker to shift and smoother than the previous gearbox. Perfect for elegant travel in not so elegant conditions. Any trek ... like Australia. Where roads reach beyond the horizon. The Series II has wider, more comfortable seats. The driver has a commanding view of the road ahead. There's room for seven people, with the optional forward-facing third-row seats that comes on line in the Spring. And in a Discovery, everyone gets three-point safety belts and head restraints, no matter where they sit. The only sport utility so equipped. Any trek ... like across the United States, where cargo space is king. Just ask the consumer. Cargo capacity is what people want. And that's why the Series II is over six and a half inches longer, with six cubic feet of additional loading space. Cargo room was a shortcoming of the previous Discovery and an area carefully considered during the redesign. Take a look. And take a look at our brakes. It is one of the most sophisticated braking systems in the business. The four-wheel disc brakes offer exceptional stopping power. Amazingly , 43 percent of compact and large sport utilities in America still use rear drum brakes. The Series II also has four-channel anti-lock brakes -- something found in only a handful of competitors, even in 1999. And something we introduced in Range Rover back in 1990. Even a seemingly minor detail like Land Rover's parking brake is unique. It is specifically engineered to lock all four wheels, holding the vehicles on the steepest of grades. The brakes are the basis of several smart systems in the Series II, all of which rely on innovative software pioneered by Land Rover. Hill Descent Control, for example, automatically supplements engine braking during extreme downhill off-road situations. Electronic Brake Distribution helps improve stopping performance under all load conditions, even when towing. And to aid the already incredible traction of Land Rover's permanent four-wheel-drive system, the Series II features standard Electronic Traction Control. Now, don't believe all traction-control systems are created equal. They are not! Four-wheel traction control as well as four-wheel drive works best when all four wheels are kept on the ground. For that, proper wheel travel is a must. That's why the Series II has more wheel travel than before. Wheel travel: it is a hallmark of Land Rover design. It's what makes our vehicles uncommonly useful. Yesterday, Land Rover closed on annual sales of 21,422 vehicles. That includes 7,070 Range Rovers, up 6.8 percent over 1997 and an all-time record. Despite the piling-on in the super-luxury segment, Range Rover remains the world's most advanced, prestigious and desirable four-wheel-drive vehicle. A rather exceptional automobile, we'd say. For 1999, the Range Rover 4.6 HSE is a second faster from 0-60 mph. On all models, four-wheel traction control in now standard. And the interior has been upgraded. And there are side air bags for the front passengers. The 1999 Range Rover is the best ever. Now, I think many of you know Land Rover North America is a company of zealots. This is where four-wheel drive enthusiasm lives. From my executive committee -- three members of which actually competed in a portion of TReK 1997 (I didn't say win, I said competed) -- to the sales guides on the floor, this is a company not afraid of a little mud. We don't just stand up here and talk about adventure, we live it! And so do our owners. One thousand of them went to the Land Rover Lodge this summer in Durango, Colorado, to experience the Discovery Series II before its public introduction both on the Million Dollar Highway and across breathtaking Black Bear Pass. Land Rover is a company made up of people like Ricky Moore and Tim Rockett of Land Rover Buckhead in Atlanta, winners of Land Rover TReK 1997. TReK is Land Rover's annual retailer competition modeled after the legendary Camel Trophy -- the Olympics of four-wheel drive. TReK is mud and guts. After months of training, teams compete against each other and the clock: orienteering, canoeing, shooting and, of course, precision off-road driving. It's fourteen hours of non-stop team competition that is both physically and mentally challenging. I'd like to give Ricky and Tim the honor of unveiling this unique edition of Discovery Series II, the vehicle we'll feature in Land Rover TReK 1999. From the BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires to the high-tech interior fabric, this vehicle takes the most capable Discovery ever and moves it deeper into heroic territory. And yes, as we have in the past, we will produce a limited run of vehicles modeled after the TReK '99 vehicle you see here. The exact number is yet to be determined, but will be based on reaction prior to the event. The all-new Discovery Series II delivers on a lot of promises. It is more useful to more people. It brings new technology to the segment: ACE, Hill Descent Control and Electronic Brake Distribution. The on-road performance of this vehicle will stun you. With its all-new suspension, it is by far the most refined on-road vehicle Land Rover has ever produced. Yet, in the dirt, no vehicle can touch it -- it remains the best off-road vehicle money can buy. It is, after all, a Land Rover.