Fleet News

Ford warns of rough ride for Land Rover in the future

FORD has warned that moves to stem big losses at Land Rover mean its new UK off-roader division is in for a rough ride over the next two to three years.

Major restructuring is set to improve efficiency, boost output and raise the quality of vehicles built at the Midlands plant, just bought from BMW by the giant US carmaker for £1.8 billion.

'Solihull is too complex to be profitable right now. It is all over the place and difficult to make efficient. We have a lot of work to do,' said Ford Premier Automotive Group vice chairman Dr Wolfgang Reitzle.

'But with the support of our parent, it should be possible to achieve some pretty extraordinary things in future because this is clearly the best off-road brand in the world.'

During a visit to nearby Jaguar, another PAG brand, on Thursday, Reitzle said plans to restructure Land Rover should be ready in six months' time.

'I see our task as executing products which will be an exact fit to the way we see this brand. By the end of the year, we will have decided what kind of model range we will have - and I see our annual volume as being much higher than the current level of 200,000 vehicles,' he said.

Reitzle said money for the new-look range would be provided by Ford in the short term. But he warned: 'Under Ford rules, we have to generate our own funding - so after three years, we will have to be airborne and able to fly on our own.'

Asked about future model plans, he said Ford was pushing ahead with the new Range Rover it had inherited from BMW and would go ahead with marketing the Freelander in the US. Thought to be due out next year, the next Range Rover is based on the German firm's 7-series platform.

He added: 'We have to produce cars more in the fun area. Land Rover has missed its volume base in the US, but there is a chance for us to position ourselves for leisure-oriented volume. I think we will retain the Defender. It is our traditional and original car and an icon - but we will add more adventurous sport utility vehicles in future.'

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