The pure electric version of Land Rover’s Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan rival is set to join the range in 2024.
Land Rover is in the process of its largest product overhaul ever. It will see the brand launch six fully electric models within the next five years, and one of the first to arrive will be a pure-EV version of the all-new Range Rover.
The fifth generation of the luxury off-roader is due to launch later this year, powered by a range of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The electric variant is set to follow in 2024 – part of a push that should see every model in Land Rover’s range offered with a combustion-free powertrain option by 2030.
Of course, this all means that the next Range Rover will become the most radical and technically advanced version there has been in the SUV’s 50-year history. The design will be new from the ground up and based on Land Rover’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) – a necessary step in order to accommodate the electrified powertrains.
Engineers have been testing prototypes around the firm’s HQ in Gaydon for a year. The development mules are a combination of new running gear and existing Range Rover bodyshells, which don’t give much away in terms of the SUV’s new look.
Land Rover bosses have focused on moving the Range Rover even further upmarket, due to increased competition in the segment from the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The look of the newcomer, as previewed by our exclusive images, will play a leading role in that.
The challenge Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern is facing is what to do with the electric Range Rover. McGovern told Auto Express that his design team is taking an ‘evolutionary’ approach with the next model, but the flexibility afforded to the team by the use of a zero-emission powertrain means there are various options for how the EV variant could look.
“There are two basic approaches,” McGovern told us. “There’s one that says if it’s an all-electric vehicle, it gives you the ability to free up your proportions. So you could have a more cab-forward approach. And then the question is, is that right for Land Rover?
“Or do you just forget about what the proportion system is, and design the car round its relevance to the consumer and optimising it in terms of what it’s capable of doing in terms of its on-road/off-road abilities, in terms of its functionality, its storage, its versatility and all those things?”
Every edition of the next Range Rover will be built at JLR’s Solihull factory, which received a $900 million investment boost in 2018. Fully electric, hybrid and diesel models can be produced on the site following the cash injection.
The mechanical makeup of the electric Range Rover is still unknown, but the MLA platform allows for two electric motors to be fitted, one on each axle, for four-wheel drive. The size of the new model could easily enable Land Rover to fit a battery as large as 100kWh if desired, which could give the SUV a range in excess of 480km.
McGovern added: “The Range Rover, whether it’s electric or not, is a car that’s loved the world over and it’s highly differentiated from anything. Thinking about the next-generation model, would you change it just so you could say that, because it’s electric, we don’t really need a bonnet any more, so let’s pull the cab forward and end up looking like a bus or a van?
“You have to be really careful how you deal with that, and if you look at the Range Rover Sport and Evoque, they’ve all evolved – they’re evolutionary, they’re not deliberately, dramatically going away from what they were before. They become more modern, they become more technically capable. We’ve embraced technology to enable the design to be more modern.”