4 years ago

April 2018

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones discusses inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China


SPECIAL VEHICLES The interior of the new SVAutobiography blends luxurious refinement together with individuality through a range of bespoke options and skilled craftsmanship IN 2014, SVO ENGINEERING STAFF “We often say the clue’s in the NUMBERED NO MORE the great products in our core range. word ‘special’,” Jaguar Land Rover We do that in one of two ways,“ he Special Operations’ Managing THAN 100, NOW explains. “Either through a model like Director John Edwards says with a the Range Rover Sport SVR, which once IT‘S NEARER 450 smile. He’s referring to the division we’ve introduced it, normally a year set up in 2014 – abbreviated to SVO for short – which creates the company’s most luxurious (SVAutobiography), high-performance (SVR) and capable (SVX) models. Since then, very special Land Rovers, Range Rovers and Jaguars have been made for clients as diverse as the James Bond film franchise, the Austrian Red Cross, fashion designer Paul Smith, sports stars, celebrities and thousands of private customers too. “Our brief is to produce halo vehicles that not only help build our brands but also our business,” Edwards continues. “Everything we do is designed to reinforce or so after the main launch, becomes a permanent fixture at the top of its range. Or, through special collector’s editions, limited in volume, more exclusive and probably hand built away from the core factory.” The division can trace its roots back to 1990s’ Autobiography versions of the Range Rover – a service for discerning customers who wanted additional features beyond the regular models’ specifications – plus varied bespoke commercial adaptations (of mainly Defenders) for working fleets like the Forestry Commission and Fire Brigades, plus a few armoured vehicles too. 86

Part of the SVO team‘s challenge is to work with a wide variety of global customers, spanning from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (top), to fashion designers like Paul Smith (middle) and sports stars like world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua But this was small-scale, and not approached with the same level of focus as the modern Special Vehicle Operations unit. “I give our CEO Dr Ralf Speth credit for Special Vehicle Operations,” Edwards recalls. “When he spoke to me four years ago he saw the potential. We look at our business as having three core brand values – luxury, performance and capability – and Special Vehicle Operations is about producing products that really dial up the volume on those three values.” To realise this potential new facilities were needed. Fleet conversions used to be undertaken in a small, unassuming workshop in Solihull. Edwards wanted somewhere new, larger and much more in keeping with the special vehicles planned. The location chosen for this was Oxford Road in Ryton, just east of Coventry, England. The 20,000-square-metre new site has 12,000 sq m dedicated to a fullyautomated paint facility – which gives Special Vehicle Operations the opportunity to paint almost any colour in any finish – plus an 8,000 sq m workshop where Special Vehicle Operations models are either built or converted into finished vehicles. Edwards gets audibly excited just thinking about the place. “It’s the best facility within Jaguar Land Rover,” he enthuses. “When customers visit, their jaws quite literally drop at the quality of investment, attention to detail and customer service. We’ve got our own Michelin-starred chef to cater for customers in a manner in which they would expect and a commissioning suite to welcome customers wanting bespoke vehicles, or see their own cars being built or converted.” The pre-2014 department handled about 200 vehicles annually, but in 2017 alone, the new SVO department completed 5,000 cars – the majority Land Rovers – and is looking to significantly surpass that figure in 2018. Indeed, a raft of new SV-badged products is planned over the next 12 months, including the SV Coupé, the ultra-luxurious Range Rover Coupé (see page 90), plus other new models for Land Rover and Jaguar too. In 2014, SVO engineering staff numbered no more than 100, now it’s nearer 450. To give an example of the sort of enhancements that 87


Land Rover Magazine


Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.

In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.

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