Is This the End of Land Rover?

Photo By: Land Rover

What’s in a name? When it comes to cars, brands and model lines can carry iconic status and instant recognition but also: confusion. Just ask Tata Motors, the giant India-based automotive and transportation conglomerate that owns British icons Jaguar, Land Rover, and Range Rover. Now, it appears the “Land Rover” marque is going away. Maybe. Or, kind of. It’s confusing.

Photo by Land Rover

The bottom line is that Tata execs have reportedly decided to shelve the “Land Rover” name/brand to focus on developing Jaguar, Range Rover, and the recently ascendant Discovery (formerly Land Rover Discovery) and Defender (formerly Land Rover Defender) platforms as their own brands. To be clear, Tata will be building Jaguar, Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender vehicles branded as such, with no more “Rover” mixing, as it were.

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Why? Tata officials said that many people they talked to didn’t know the difference between a Range Rover and a Land Rover, including many Land Rover owners, who often said they drive Range Rovers since the two brands were so heavily intertwined. However, Tata folks also said the Land Rover nameplate would carry on in some fashion — not confusing at all.

Why break off Defender, Discover, and Range Rover off into separate brands? In case Tata needs to sell them off. Rather than sell off Land Rover with all its nameplates, individual nameplate sub-brands could be sold off while Tata retains control of others. For example, it could sell Discovery but keep Defender and Range Rover.

This move isn’t completely unusual. Just 12 years ago Chrysler split Ram Trucks off from Dodge and, for a short time, SRT, too, as standalone brands. This in case it needed to sell — or kill off — Dodge. If Dodge needed to go the way of the polar bear, Chrysler could retain the profitable Ram and SRT brands and slough off the floundering nameplates. Chrysler never needed to kill Dodge, obviously, but it was preparing to if it came to that. It’s likely this is exactly what Tata is doing now; prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Photo by Land Rover

Tata says it is now beginning to re-define the brands, which it acquired in 2021. Jaguar is poised to relaunch as a luxury all-electric platform with its sights set on Tesla and six-digit price tags. Range Rover would continue to uphold the luxury SUV end of the spectrum, possibly targeting upper-end Jeeps and the Mercedes G-Class machines, while the Defender models may go after a more mid-market off-road capable market segment. It’s likely all of the lines will soon see electrification in some measure, either as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or pure electric models.

What becomes of Land Rover, Defender, Discovery, though … we will just have to wait and see.

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