LOS ANGELES ‚Äď The LR2 cross/utility vehicle, which makes its world premiere here at the L.A. Auto Show, is the first Land Rover to share architecture with otherMotor Co. models.
At $34,700, the LR2 (called Freelander everywhere but North America and the Middle East) also is the lowest-priced Land Rover on the market.
‚ÄúThe potential capture rate of people as you go down in price spreads exponentially,‚ÄĚ Richard Beattie, executive vice president-marketing and sales for Land Rover North America, tells Ward‚Äôs.
The second-generation Freelander goes on sale in Europe early next year. The LR2 is slated to hit U.S. showrooms in the spring.
Sharing‚Äôs EUCD platform that also underpins the Volvo S80 and upcoming Ford Edge CUV and ‚Äô08 Volvo XC60, the LR2 will compete mainly with the X3, Beattie says, while contending with at least a half dozen other ‚Äô09 segment entries.
‚ÄúAt last they‚Äôll have some competition,‚ÄĚ he says of the premium German rivalAG.
Beattie says the LR2 will stand out because of its off-road capability as well as other features, such as 3,500 lbs. (1,588 kg) of towing capability.
The LR2 also marks the first time a Land Rover has been built outside the main facility in Solihull, U.K. The CUV is assembled at the Halewood, U.K., plant that also builds the Jaguar X-Type.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs plenty of upside capacity if it‚Äôs available, but we‚Äôre purposely not building too much capacity in. We have that flexibility,‚ÄĚ Beattie says, adding the auto maker does not want to end up with overcapacity.
Meanwhile, Beattie expects Land Rover will see record worldwide sales this year, on top of 14% growth in 2005. Global sales are up 6.7% through October, he says.
In the U.S., Land Rover sales were up 8.2% for the first 10 months, according to Ward‚Äôs data.