It’s been a long time since Land Rover has experienced the bragging rights that come with sales success.
For too long, models such as the lackluster Freelander and Discovery hampered sales and contributed to an epic reputation for poor reliability. These days, though, things are looking up as the company’s Solihull factory is increasing its 5,000-strong workforce by 275 workers. Those new workers can thank strong Land Rover sales for their jobs.
According to Autocar, March was the best month for sales ever in the 62-year history of Land Rover, with 11,300 new vehicles worldwide finding happy owners.
While congratulations are in order for that bit of news, I can’t help but question a perplexing move Land Rover has in store for its upcoming LRX.
With sales as strong as they are, it seems like a perfect opportunity for Land Rover to step up and further cement its place in the auto world as a builder of fully capable and luxurious vehicles that can handle any terrain.
Instead, we hear reports that the brand’s new LRX will come in front-wheel-drive.
I’ll give you Land Rover lovers a moment to sit down.
Why would the world’s foremost off-roading brand stoop to FWD? Two reasons:
- Sales potential in the crossover segment is growing
The kind of efficiency the LRX could offer (130g/km of carbon dioxide emissions, MPG numbers aren’t available) would help Land Rover improve its overall fuel efficiency and bring down its CO2 footprint, helping the automaker toward the goal of meeting strict emissions and efficiency standards.
To avoid complete blasphemy, the LRX will come with all-wheel drive, too. In my humble opinion, though, the damage to the brand is done. No longer will Land Rover have the ability to call each of its vehicles the “most capable vehicle on earth.” It will sacrifice that claim for the sake of a few sales.
This is tantamount to Aston Martin building a city car (oh, wait…) or Ferrari producing a commercial delivery van (at least that hasn’t happened yet).
I know, the auto industry is changing, but there will always be room for Land Rover to operate and be successful in the niche it currently owns. Just look to its March sales numbers for proof.
On the positive side, I don’t think the LRX is nearly as ugly as our man jgoods made it out to be. In fact, I really like it. Make the thing a proper 4WD Land Rover, and I might even get excited to visit an LR showroom this Fall.
Is Land Rover making the right decision by producing a FWD LRX?