LOS ANGELES â€“ 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.
â€śThe potential capture rate of people as you go down in price spreads exponentially,â€ť Richard Beattie, executive vice president-marketing and sales for Land Rover North America, tells Wardâ€™s.
The second-generation Freelander goes on sale in Europe early next year. The LR2 is slated to hit U.S. showrooms in the spring.
Sharingâ€™s EUCD platform that also underpins the Volvo S80 and upcoming Ford Edge CUV and â€™08 Volvo XC60, the LR2 will compete mainly with the X3, Beattie says, while contending with at least a half dozen other â€™09 segment entries.
â€śAt last theyâ€™ll have some competition,â€ť 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.
â€śThereâ€™s plenty of upside capacity if itâ€™s available, but weâ€™re purposely not building too much capacity in. We have that flexibility,â€ť 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 Wardâ€™s data.