Land Rover:

Land Rover LR4 – Owners Give it a Win as Ideal Luxury SUV

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

LR4 Edges Out Lexus GX For IVA Win: The 2012 Land Rover LR4 comes closest to the ideal of any Luxury SUV scoring a significant 21 rating-point win over the second place Lexus GX.  Eighty-percent or more of LR4 owners find these characteristics ideal:  exterior size, driver seat visibility, passenger roominess, cargo space, seat comfort, ride and handling, tires and wheels, ease of getting in and out and safety features.

More Infotainment Technology Needed: Nearly half of the LR4 owners want more or better infotainment and entertainment technology than they have now.  While the LR4 has loads of technology under the skin allowing it to go anywhere, anytime, it falls down in an area growing more and more important in today’s automotive purchase process.

Styling Needs a Boost: About 30% of LR4 owners would like more daring exterior styling than they have now.  While the LR4 achieves a purposeful and utilitarian look, pushing the styling envelope would be positively received by many owners and prospective owners.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2011 Land Rover LR4: The Best 4x4xFar?

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Although the fad of pavement pounders and soccer moms driving vehicles better suited for the Camel Trophy than the city playground is over, Land Rover continues to offer the LR4 for those who still demand the a vehicle with no compromises.  While Land Rover has never been known for quality, they have been known for their off-road prowess.  Jeep might be known for something similar, but Jeep doesn’t offer anything with the no compromises capability of the 2011 Land Rover LR4.  What other vehicle can move seven people off the beaten path in comfort and style and tow 7,000 pounds?


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2010 Land Rover LR4: An Upscale Journey Through the Urban Jungle

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The debate over the usefulness of traditional, capable SUVs in today’s world seems to be coming to a close, with the more efficient and car-based crossover winning the argument. Who really needs a rock-climbing 12-mpg mountain goat on four wheels when all it gets used for is to pick up the kids from school and get to the mall?
For mainstream customers, there is no doubt that a crossover is a far better and more rational choice. But at the upper echelons of the marketplace, it’s not about rationale. It’s about image. It’s about knowing that even though the most challenging incline you’ll ever encounter is the spiral ramp that goes up the Beverly Center parking structure, your vehicle could scale Everest. Think about it: why else are commercial grade Viking appliances and five-figure digital SLR cameras so aspirational? It’s because their image is tied to professional strength capability, no matter that you won’t ever use said capability.


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HUMMER Gals Love Consumer Brands

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Women owning HUMMERs have a strong affinity for ten consumer brands in the USA.
AutoPacific’s Research Suite database that annually collects the opinions of over 30,000 buyers of new cars and light trucks asked which of 27 brands a new owner would buy from. The results from AutoPacific’s Consumer Brands Study clearly show the interrelationship between owners of auto brands and buyers of twenty-seven consumer brands like Walmart, Lowe’s, Apple, Sony, Hugo Boss, Costco, McDonalds and more.
What the study shows is that you likely won’t find a Porsche driven by a woman in a Walmart parking lot, but you are likely to find a Land Rover driven by a woman at an Apple Store. Using these data AutoPacific can develop clear profiles of the dynamics between these auto brands and consumer brands.
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Looking only at female buyers, HUMMER buyers were most likely to shop at Lowe’s, Old Navy, The Gap, Walmart and to buy Coca Cola, Levi’s, Axe, LG, HP and Hugo Boss.
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The only other brand that came close to HUMMER gals was Land Rover. They were tops in Polo, Methoc, Sony, Gucci, Hugo Boss and HP. They were also in the top five among Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Apple, Starbucks, Costco and Louis Vuitton shoppers.


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2009 Land Rover LR2 Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Luxury CUV

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2009_LandRoverLr2.jpgThe Land Rover LR2 wins the Luxury Crossover SUV Vehicle Satisfaction Award over strong domestic and import brand competition. In its second year in current form, the smallest Land Rover outscored the likes of the Acura RDX, Infiniti EX, BMW X3 and Lincoln MKX. LR2 scored well for product and financial attributes including:
• Image
• Ride
• Ease of entry/egress
• Durability
• Fuel economy and operating costs
• Value for the money, anticipated resale value
• Warranty


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It's Official: Jaguar Land Rover Has Been Sold

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Below the jump, you can read Tata‘s official statement on buying Jaguar and Land Rover, now Jaguar Land Rover, from Ford today. However odd it may seem for these illustrious British marques to be owned by an Indian conglomerate, Tata may well end up being an excellent caretaker.

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At least initially, it seems that Tata Motors is looking to let the company continue with the product plans in place before the sale. Tata has ensured supply of needed engines and stampings through “long-term” agreements with Ford Motor Company and appointed David Smith the new Jaguar Land Rover CEO. Mr. Smith, who had been Jaguar Land Rover’s CFO, took on the role of acting CEO after Geoff Polites death in April. The appointment of a long-time Land Rover principal, holding twenty-five years with the SUV maker, indicates further support of the existing management staff.
As Tata gets more deeply involved, the business situation is bound to change. But the Indian company has patience, and seems to be ready to learn about the international business before making significant changes.


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Exhuast Note #7: Tata Shows Patience is a Virtue

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I recently attended a presentation with a panel of Indian-market experts, at a Society of Automotive Analysts meeting. Much was covered, discussed, and analyzed, and we were shown more numbers than you could shake a stick at.
A couple of points stuck in my head. Among them: Indian companies and people seem more patient and willing to learn, yet still ambitious and effective. Another: As a basic cultural value, the Indian population doesn’t seem to care all that much for cars.

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Tata is Ready to Learn
Tata Motors has been making vehicles since 1954. They aren’t newcomers, though most of their history is with commercial vehicles. The company is expanding on the global scene slowly and carefully. The purchase of Jaguar Land Rover is the first step for playing with in the big leagues.


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California Loses More Car Operations

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On Friday, March 7, two announcements were made that impact the Southern California car culture and, to some extent, the global auto industry.
Volvo Cars of North America Returns to Rockleigh Headquarters
The first was that Volvo Cars of North America is returning to its former headquarters in Rockleigh, New Jersey at the foot of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Beautiful location and much closer to Sweden, but we can’t help but wonder how the Volvo mindset in the USA will change with a New Jersey perspective rather than one from California? But, this does make sense.

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Jaguar and Land Rover Likely Will Move to Jag’s Old HQ in Mahwah
In due time, Jaguar and Land Rover locations will very likely move from Irvine, California back to Jaguar’s old HQ in Mahway, New Jersey. One veteran Land Rover manager quipped, “Well, I’ve worked for Land Rover through four owners. One more (Tata) won’t be too much different.”
This means that Ford’s Premier Automotive Group headquarters building in Irvine will be pretty empty except for some Ford regional and PR offices. This is also where Ford has some advanced design activities.
Chrysler Pacifica to Shut Down, Operations Relocated to Auburn Hills
The second announcement was that Chrysler is closing its Chrysler Pacifica operation in Carlsbad. Used as an advanced concept design center and monitoring operation, several Chrysler show cars were designed at Chrysler Pacifica and in the heyday, were fabricated by Metalcrafters in Fountain Valley. Here is Chrysler’s blurb on the demise of Pacifica: “Increasingly, we are leveraging resources worldwide, forming new joint ventures and alliances and consolidating operations in order to better achieve global balance and manage fixed costs. These moves are designed to help Chrysler become a more globally focused manufacturer, with design, engineering, sourcing and a local presence to serve local customers.
As such, we are closing the Pacifica Advance Product Design Center, consolidating the Advance Design function in Auburn Hills. Advance Design remains an integral part of our future design efforts, led by Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President — Design.
These changes set the stage for Chrysler’s future global growth efforts, which also include our intent to establish global expertise in design, engineering and sourcing through centers of excellence. These actions will help the Company meet its long-term globalization goals.”
Expect Many Staffers to Refuse to Move – Nissan’s Experience
Volvo, Chcysler Pacifica and soon Jaguar Land Rover will lose valuable and experienced staff who will refuse to relocate out of Southern California. This is what happened when Nissan North America moved from Gardena to Nashville, Tennessee in 2006. Less than 30% of their folks went with them and it has been turmoil ever sense.
All of these operations (with the exception of Nissan North America which was “born” in Southern California) moved to Southern California to be part of the most trend-setting area in the USA and arguably the tip of the spear in advanced automotive design in the world. In the case of PAG, it can be argued that staffers spent too much time at their desks to really benefit from being here. But designers need to breathe the air and see the colors and vibrancy of the area. Viewing the world as a designer in Detroit is, simply, different.


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Year End 2007 – Auto Industry in the Rear View Mirror

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A stream of consciousness look at the auto industry in 2007. Whew, what a year it was!!!!!!!
Not the Trauma We Expected, but 2007 was Tough
We began the 2007 thinking the year was going to tank into the mid-15,000,000 unit range. That didn’t happen and the industry struggled to just over 16,000,000 units. This reasonably good year was in the face of negative media coverage, a severe housing downturn, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring gasoline prices, etc.
Saying 2007 at just over 16 million units was a good year will be criticized as nuts, but we have been conditioned since 2000 to think that 17 million is good. It wasn’t too many years ago that 15 million was good. So, 16 million ain’t too bad. Just not what we have become accustomed to. And, by accustomed to, I mean we have plant capacity for many more units. We have dealers in place to sell many more units. We have built our business models and breakeven points on 17 million units and not 16 million.
We began the year with turmoil. Ford was in turmoil and embarking on an aggressive restructuring program with a new CEO at the helm. There were rumors of bankruptcy hovering over Detroit. DaimlerChrysler AG announced that it would off-load its American Chrysler Group and rely on upscale Mercedes-Benz cars, commercial trucks and, of course, Maybach and smart.
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Ford Struggles Through 2007
By year end, Ford is still with us and there are some bright spots in its lineup – Fusion, Edge, MKX, MKZ. The Five Hundred, Montego and Freestyle were freshened, got new engines and renamed Taurus, Sable, Taurus X. Well, the upgrades took, but sales did not and Taurus, et.al have languished on dealer lots. I did see a ton of them on Kauai along with a very high number of Dodge Calibers. So, we know that retail sales for the Ford large cars and Crossover are not doing too well. Ford has retained top spot in big truck sales with F-Series remaining the sales leader even with Silverado and Tundra coming on strong and the Dodge Ram pickup offered at fire sale prices. Ford unloaded Aston Martin and spent the year doing due diligence on off-loading Jaguar and Land Rover (probably to India’s Tata Motors). Ford will keep Volvo, however.
To help Ford with sales and marketing, Ford lured Jim Farley to the Company. Formerly Group Vice President of Toyota’s Lexus Division, Farley was a rising star in the Toyota ranks. A friend of the Ford family, Farley appears positioned to challenge Ford’s other young star – Mark Fields – as the heir apparent to Alan Mulally in four or five years.
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Now, It’s Chrysler LLC
DaimlerChrysler gave Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management retaining a 19.9% stake. Cerberus promptly named Bob Nardelli – formerly hard charging CEO of Home Depot and General Electric – as CEO of Chrysler LLC. Nardelli’s lack of specific auto industry experience was offset by Cerberus adding highly respected Toyota executive Jim Press as co-COO. Press is working his way through Chrysler’s activities using the revered Toyota Five Whys approach (a question asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem). Five Whys, understandably, has Chrysler vets on edge. They now have to justify everything. Nardelli, Press and Tom LaSorda are facing soft sales, high inventories, sub-par interiors in many cars and an image gap. With $10 billion in loans, Chrysler LLC has some time to prove itself or position itself for a takeover or a parceling out of components (like Jeep, Dodge Truck, Minivans, etc). Oh, yeah, DaimlerChrysler became Daimler AG in October.
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General Motors Has Turned the Corner

General Motors appears to have turned the corner. GM has kept its head down during 2007 staying out of the feeding frenzy the media has directed at Ford and Chrysler. Not that there aren’t numerous stories written about GM, it’s just that there hasn’t been the bad news to whet the appetite of journalists.
GM’s products are improving now that the early efforts of Bob Lutz are being seen. While cars like the Saturn Aura and trucks like the Lambda Crossover SUVs and GMT900s have set the tone, Lutz’ real impact has been seen on the 2008 Cadillac CTS and 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. Both of these cars will serve to cement GM’s car lineup for years to come.


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2009 Lexus LX570 – Luxurious Anonymity

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The reigning king of the Luxury SUV hill is probably the Range Rover. High priced at $77,175. Features most couldn’t conceive of in an off-road environment. Extremely competent off road. The top of the Land Rover line has established a tremendous reputation and following as THE aspirational Luxury SUV. Range Rover is not the best selling Luxury SUV, but it casts a wide shadow. And has since the early 1970s. VehicleVoice was on hand at The Grand Del Mar Hotel for the media preview of the Lexus LX570. Priced at $73,800, LX570 undercuts the Rangie, but is no less competent.

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LX570 – 3rd Generation Lexus LX
Lexus entered the upper end of the Luxury SUV market in 1996 with a facelifted and upgraded Toyota Land Cruiser – the Lexus LX450. The 1st Gen LX was replaced in 1999 by the LX470 which was freshened in 2002 and 2005. So, after a ten year run, it is time for Lexus to bring its latest LX to the market – the LX570.
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The first two LX generations did not set the world on fire from a sales standpoint. They were functional-looking SUVs loaded with features. Not head-turners. Not something to make your blood rush. They did, however, bring a very interesting clientele to Lexus. Younger, highly affluent, not wanting to make a strong statement with their vehicle. Confident, not having to show off their wealth. The 3rd Gen LX follows the same formula and hopes to attract the same type of buyer for slightly under 10,000 units per year or 3.5 LX570s per month for each of Lexus’ 223 dealers.


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