Jaguar Land Rover has reinvented itself. The automaker has become a “House of Brands” and, to that end, is making drastic changes to its naming structure
Brands are living beings. When they are new, the company must nurture them by doing a good job and associating it to a good reputation. Once they become strong, they may reward that effort by helping make a product more competitive. And there are times when they need to change. Depending on the situation, the company may need to create a new one, end another one, or reinvent the existing ones.
After the 2008 crisis, North American automakers made drastic changes to their portfolio. Stellantis is now juggling many brands that came from FCA and PSA. More recently, Chevrolet is considering to turn some car names into sub-brands. But now, we are going to focus on another example. Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by Indian automaker Tata, is now changing its brand strategy to maximize global recognition.
Who owns Jaguar Land Rover?
Tata Motors now, but their relationship goes way back. Jaguar’s operations date back to the 1920s while Land Rover was founded in the 1940s. However, they became partners in 1968 when Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings merged to form British Leyland. Although this company had high-profit brands, it had never been financially stable. For example, it was partially nationalized in 1975 to try and stay active.
Jaguar and Land Rover were partners up to the early 1980s. The former gradually separated from the rest of the group until a new full privatization in 1984. Ten years later, after several attempts to restructure the company, BMW acquired Land Rover as a part of the Rover Group. Since the move could not revert those losses, the Germans ended up reselling the company except for Mini. That leads us to the next chapter.
Premier Automotive Group
After a brief independent period, Jaguar was purchased by Ford in 1989. It would become one of the first brands to integrate the Premier Automotive Group, a cluster with which Ford wanted to participate in the high-end market. Eleven years later, Land Rover became part of the same group. While the venture’s most prominent product was fodder for jokes, it did also serve to bring Jaguar and Land Rover together again.
Ford eventually gave up on PAG and gradually resold its brands in the late 2000s. Jaguar and Land Rover went together to Tata Motors in 2008 for £1.15 billion, in a deal which also included rights to the defunct brands Rover, Lanchester and Daimler (not related to the German automaker). Tata’s takeover brought the investment the British duo needed so badly but, again, brands are living beings. Those are no exception.
Jaguar Land Rover under Tata
The new ownership eventually merged the marques into one automaker with British headquarters. Jaguar and Land Rover had important releases ever since, such as the very first SUV lineup for the former and all-new generations for the latter’s iconic models. Nowadays, Jaguar focuses on urban cars while Land Rover specializes at off-road ones, both at the luxury market. Both are also gradually embracing electrification.
Sadly, the automotive market is not exactly clement. Both brands have consistently been criticized for low reliability in the USA, which is a critical consumer. Besides, they have always had strong competition from German brands in all segments. Jaguar Land Rover started a partnership with Chery in the early 2000s to boost its Chinese operation, but it needed more at a global level. You guessed it: new chapter coming up.
JLR as a House of Brands
The Reimagine plan aims to change everything. The company will now be officially named JLR, which used to be an informal abbreviation. According to chief creative officer Gerry McGovern, it is going through “a natural evolution, with a purpose of elevating and amplifying the uniqueness of our characterful British marques”. To Jaguar, it means an even stronger push for electrification. But that is not the surprising part.
If you ever thought that Land Rover Range Rover Evoque D240 HSE R-Dynamic Black Pack is a bit too long, rejoice! Defender, Discovery and Range Rover will become marques on their own, instead of falling under Land Rover. Then again, JLR has quickly added that the iconic brand will not die with the new phase. “Its spirit is—and will continue to be—a crucial part of our DNA.” Let us go through that new brand strategy.
New Land Rover era
The truth is that the idea is not new to this company. Decades ago, it would offer only one vehicle, which was simply named Land Rover and had the 90, 110 or 130 versions according to their wheelbase. In 1970, the company built a separate model focused on civil use and named it Range Rover. That structure would only change in 1989, when the Discovery’s release made the automaker use “Land Rover” as the brand.
Nowadays, we can say that the JLR line is well prepared for that change. Here is what we can expect:
- Evoque, Sport and Velar to become model names under the Range Rover brand.
- 90, 110, and 130 to become model names under the Defender brand.
- Sport to become a model name under the Discovery brand.
- Jaguar cars should stay the same because this brand will not change.
Why is that important?
Some weeks ago, we wrote about brand umbrellas. In short, they are yet another way for an automaker to manage its brands. There are times when a product builds such an image in the market that it becomes a brand on its own. Therefore, it is possible to expand that product into multiple ones because they will all be supported by that new brand. JLR has been doing that with the Range Rover brand, for example.
While the original model in that family stays loyal to the high-luxury segment, there is a Sport sibling for performance enthusiasts, the Evoque for younger drivers, and the Velar for who appreciates modern style. The Discovery has a Sport version which replicates its family focus in a smaller and cheaper version. And the Defender offers its ruggedness in three lengths, only with the niceties of the modern days this time.
As you can imagine, there are several questions for JLR to answer. For example, we do not know how it is going to rename the “regular” Range Rover and Discovery. But that initial statement is just the beginning. We can expect to get more answers from now on, whether with more press statements like that or with the upcoming car releases. What do you think of the all-new phase Jaguar Land Rover is about to enter?