LAND Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division is going to war against tuning houses that feed on the British brand to create more luxury-laden or monstered versions of its products.
The luxury off-road specialist says the Range Rover Sport SVR, revealed earlier this year after SVO was created, is the first salvo in a battle that will target niche tuning houses that heavily modify buyers’ vehicles and reap profit from Land Rover products, the British car maker says.
"We need to get tougher with them," Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern, speaking on the floor of the Paris Motor Show after the reveal of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, says.
"I find it frustrating that these companies set themselves up, take our vehicles, use 99.9 percent of our creative intellect for their own profit, and take our badge off and out their badge on it... they're taking advantage of our brand equity."
SVO will follow the structure of German luxury car go-fast division Mercedes-AMG as a "natural progression" of the company's business, with a facility being built to prepare these models.
McGovern says he sees the personalisation of SVO applicable to the entire Land Rover and Range Rover line-up, yet SVO won't pander to wild tastes.
"It needs to congruent with what that particular family is about... what we're trying to do is give our customers more choice, but do it in a way that maintains the integrity of the brand."
Strategic planning of such parts and features means that items suitable for a Defender, for instance, may not be offered on a Range Rover Sport. It's all about taste, protecting the Land Rover brand image ‑ and cashing in on customer desire for something a little different.
"I do have a real issue with some of the companies we see... taking our cars,” McGovern says.
“In fairness to our customers, they buy these cars and they give them to these people to tune or whatever, 'cause we're not necessarily giving them what they want.
“What they really want is something that's a little different... and we need to go out there and give them that."