AM Online

Land Rover exploits US niche potential

Ford aims to return Land Rover to profit in 2002 by boosting worldwide sales, cutting costs and introducing more 'lifestyle' models, some based on the Defender.

The company is targeting the US for its big sales push with the V6-engined Freelander next year, but will also extend its dealer network in continental Europe as it breaks ties with former owners BMW.

Bob Dover, new chief executive, said Land Rover would remain a premium brand within Ford. He did not expect any clash with existing Ford 4x4 product, although some components would be shared.

“We intend to occupy a premium position in the market and our products sit well alongside other Ford SUVs,” he said. “There is potential for niche producers to do extremely well.”

He said Ford was committed to the success of Land Rover and described the company's management of Jaguar as a model for the future. Ford had managed Jaguar by “increasing investment, boosting the model range and introducing processes which improved quality and production”.

Mr Dover admitted quality remained an issue with Land Rover product but praised the UK dealer network as “the prime reason many customers come back”. He joined other industry leaders in attacking the UK stance over the euro and said Britain was “a lousy place to make product” because of the exchange rate.

The former Aston Martin chief executive has returned to Land Rover - he was director of manufacturing from 1984 to 1987.

Other key board appointments include Steve Ross, director product development; Matthew Taylor, director sales and marketing; and Marin Burela, director manufacturing.



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