When it comes to driving forward new ideas, Land Rover has always been at the forefront of innovation, and the last few months have clearly been busier than ever for the brand, with several big announcements which are keeping them firmly in the automotive headlines.
Firstly, the launch of Land Rover’s invisible bonnet. Not literally, of course, but virtually. The technology gives full visibility of what is underneath and in front of the car, providing total clarity when it comes to negotiating difficult or uneven terrain. Nervy urban drivers, or those who frequently find themselves having to park in tight spaces, will now be able to park parallel to pavements with perfect precision thanks to cameras that feed imagery showing the position of the car’s front wheels. At last, something to avoid those scratched hubcaps!
From navigating spaces to navigating space itself, Land Rover’s next big announcement was for a long-term global partnership with Virgin Galactic. The aim is to inspire young people pursuing careers in science and technology. In true dramatic style, the reveal took place in New York on board USS Intrepid, a former aircraft carrier and now a museum anchored on the River Hudson, with Land Rover’s new Discovery Vision Concept car standing alongside Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo (the world’s first commercial spaceship), thus demonstrating the sense of adventure shared by both brands.
The partnership will see Land Rover vehicles become part of daily life for the Virgin Galactic team, and the company will base a fleet of vehicles at both Virgin Galactic’s test centre in California, and its operational base in New Mexico.
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic, revealed that he “couldn’t be more delighted to have Land Rover join us on our incredible journey. It is hard to think of a brand which is more synonymous with exploration and adventure. The safety and engineering excellence of Land Rover’s vehicles, which have been the stuff of legend for more than 65 years, are attributes which also lie at the heart of Virgin Galactic. We look forward to crossing the final frontier together and to a long and fruitful partnership.”
The latest big announcement came at a specially organised day at Hedsor Park in the UK, when Land Rover revealed they had teamed up with luxury adventure travel specialists Abercrombie & Kent, founded by Geoffrey Kent. Their concept, called Adventure Travel, puts travellers quite literally in the driving seat as they get behind the wheel to put their Land Rover vehicle through its paces over some of the world’s most beautiful, dramatic terrain, all under the care of specialist instructors, and organised through Abercrombie & Kent. This coming together of two iconic British brands will commence with a Best of British Tour as well as two itineraries that showcase some of the most thrilling experiences in Africa and India respectively. The Luxury Channel got to try out the 4×4 track at Hedsor to get a feel for what the forthcoming tours will entail (albeit minus the mystique of rhinos and tigers). A smooth ride combined with Land Rover’s latest technology ensured a fun-filled afternoon driving down steep banks and negotiating our way around trees, followed by champagne and springbok burgers overlooking the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. This was but a taster of the main tours, but the exhilaration of the assembled guests was enough to show that this is well worth booking for. Next year sees tours organised for China, Morocco and Iceland.
Finally, to cap off what is already turning into a momentous year for the company, Jaguar Land Rover’s export success has achieved the Queen’s Award For Enterprise In International Trade, for outstanding overseas sales growth. Last year, Jaguar Land Rover sold 425, 000 vehicles in more than 170 countries. 80% of all of its vehicles built in Britain are exported, with Europe, China and North America being the biggest markets.
It’s not even half way through the year, but we’re poised behind the wheel to see what’s next for this quintessentially British brand!