Best-Selling Land Rover Model Makes Southern Calif. Debut
10 January 2001Land Rover Develops New SUV Market Segment With Freelander
Watch the entire introduction from the Detroit Auto Show Click here LOS ANGELES - Land Rover's new Freelander, unveiled to the southern Calif. public today at the 2001 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, represents a brand-new niche within the hotly contested and rapidly expanding small sport-utility vehicle segment. A small, premium sport-utility vehicle targeted at driving enthusiasts, the new Freelander will create and define the premium small sport-utility segment in the same way the luxurious Range Rover helped establish the overall premium sport-utility segment when it was launched in the U.S. in 1987. Freelander will go on sale in North America during the fourth quarter of this year. Howard Mosher, president and CEO of Land Rover North America, Inc., said, "When introduced in the North American market later this year, Freelander will quickly become an ideal vehicle for southern Californians, and indeed all customers who desire go-anywhere capability, light and quick European handling and the premium, upscale functionality of a Land Rover." The first all-new Land Rover for North America since 1994, Freelander will join Land Rover's popular and successful Range Rover and Discovery Series II models, already for sale in this market, expanding the British automaker's North American vehicle lineup to three models. The new Freelander will make the excitement of Land Rover ownership a reality for many more people as it helps the company achieve a significant North American sales increase in calendar year 2002. All Freelanders sold in North America will feature permanent all-wheel drive; a center viscous coupling unit (VCU) similar to that of Range Rover; four-wheel Electronic Traction Control (4ETC); Land Rover's patented Hill Descent Control (HDC); and a four-channel, all-terrain Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). No other vehicle in the small sport-utility segment offers this level of innovation. Freelander is the first Land Rover in history to combine unit body construction with a fully independent suspension. This approach was chosen with consideration to the vehicle's size, as Freelander is smaller than previous Land Rovers. Freelander's design represents an ideal combination of ride and handling both on- and off-road. The basis of the vehicle's suspension is a MacPherson strut setup for each wheel, with steel subframes mounted rigidly to the body at the front and rear. Generous amounts of wheel travel are provided: seven inches (180 mm) at the front and a full eight inches (204 mm) at the rear. The power unit for the North American-specification Freelander will be Land Rover's KV6 engine, a 2.5-liter, 24-valve, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) unit that develops an estimated 175 bhp and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. Final engine output ratings for North America's Freelander models have not yet been established. This powerful, efficient engine will be mated to a Jatco five- speed Steptronic automatic transmission that offers both the smooth ease of an automatic and the responsive feel of a five-speed manual shifter. At launch, Freelander will be offered as a five-door model and will carry a price below $30,000. Cloth and leather interior trim packages will both be offered. Land Rover is also considering the possibility of launching a three- door Freelander model in North America at a later date. Freelander will help lead Land Rover North America's growth and expansion in the U.S. over the coming years. U.S. Land Rover sales of 27,148 vehicles in 2000 will increase to more than 40,000 vehicles during calendar year 2002. To support this growth, Land Rover North America will continue to expand its award-winning network of Land Rover Centres throughout the U.S. Land Rover Centres are no-pressure, Land Rover-exclusive retail facilities that feature their own off-road demonstration courses. These retail outlets continue to score near the top of the auto industry in terms of customer sales satisfaction thanks in part to extensive and wide-ranging training programs developed by Land Rover University. Land Rovers are currently sold through 10 retail outlets in the greater Los Angeles area, eight of which are critically acclaimed Land Rover Centres. The Centre concept was launched by Land Rover North America in 1995 and has become the benchmark for Land Rover retailing around the world. Land Rover North America, Inc. will be relocating its North American headquarters from Lanham, Md. to Irvine, Calif. during the second half of 2001.