Land Rover has pulled the plug on its limited-edition Range Rover SV Coupe. The flagship was to act as an exclusive halo model, but has become the first production sign of the squeeze being felt by the whole JLR group after massive layoffs hit the news.
The SV Coupe was to be limited to just 999 units, topping the Range Rover line-up with a 557bhp version of the ubiquitous 5-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine under the bonnet and a price tag starting at £240,000. Instead of spending time, resource and money on the development of a car which left a question mark as to its actual profitability though, Jaguar Land Rover has instead decided to redirect that effort to Land Rover’s critical future product range.
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Why the change of heart? Land Rover’s prosperous few years focusing on the trendy Range Rover has come back to haunt it, as nearly overnight, Chinese sales of the popular SUV have collapsed by a massive 60 per cent. This can be blamed on a variety of reasons, namely a slowing Chinese economy, new tax regulations on big SUVs and a dealer network in the midst of a political minefield. The Chinese market has been so crucial to the Range Rover as models sold in that market often boast generous profit margins.
It’s not just that of course, as the Range Rover’s previously dominant place atop the luxury SUV market globally has been weakened with new rivals like the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls Royce Cullinan – to name a few. That diesel sales have also stalled within Europe, is yet another nail in the coffin, as most of Jaguar and Land Rover’s model lines are very diesel-heavy, despite the brand’s new emphasis on electrification.
It’s these factors that have played havoc with JLR’s bottom line, and forced Land Rover to make the decision to instead focus on more profitable model lines, something the highly bespoke two-door Range Rover was unlikely to be, despite the huge purchase price. There is hope though, with the all-new Evoque on the verge of being released with a variety of legislation and public opinion-friendly hybrid powertrains, which might rekindle the success the original achieved back in 2014.