LAND ROVER DEFENDER
OF THE FAITH
Copyright 2001 www.variety.com
[ December 3rd 2001 ]
Rover Defender is arguably the most important
icon in the 4x4 world. Arguably, because Jeep
is the original contemporary 4x4. Arguably also
because today, in almost any television footage
of war zones or expeditions, the 4x4 enthusiasts
will see that the preferred vehicle would be a
Toyota Land Cruiser.
yes, Lara Croft uses a special project Defender
110 High Capacity as the Tomb Raider, and so did
the Camel Trophy events until a few years ago
when it lost its 4x4 direction and its innocents
were shanghaied into canoeing and abseiling.
Camel Trophy events, and the cigarette advertising
budget which bankrolled the campaign which spanned
more than a decade, did a great deal more good
for Land Rover's image than it did for selling
Camel cigarettes, and Robert Dover, Land Rover
UK president, is working to fix this, starting
with the Defender.
met recently at the Tokyo Motor Show and in a
special interview with the CBT, said: "The Defender
is an icon for Land Rover. We own the shape and
the design. Don't worry about that - we won't
change the shape. "But we're working on matching
it to the image of toughness, of ultimate capabality.
It won't take less than three years and may take
up to six years," Dover told CBT.
want to rescue someone from the mountain, or send
emergency supplies to the toughest place in the
world, the Land Rover Defender should be there,
smack in the thick of the action. "The Defender
must represent ultimate capability. Anywhere,
anytime, it must be seen as the toughest. We want
to get this premium slice of the market and we'll
use Ford processes to drive quality. We know what
works and what don't. We're going design the quality
in the process. Specifically, we have a plant
vehicle team, half of whom are manufacturing engineers.
Then, we have the current quality teams. There
is one team each for the Defender, the Freelander,
the Discovery and the Range Rover."
to a question that the Defender did not address
the needs of the hot and dusty tropics where the
air-conditioning of a utility vehicle could no
longer be regarded as a luxury, Dover (who admitted
to travelling to Malacca in a Toyota) said that
it was an engineering problem which could be solved.
Defender is the icon product for Land Rover and
whatever it does, the shape can't be changed,
which is so recognisable that, like the Volkswagen
Beetle, it can be distinguished even from outerspace.
"We want to get this utility market. Not all of
it, just the premium slice of it," he said.
next year, the Land Rover Defender 110 will be
sold for the first time in Japan. The only Defender
available in Japan previously was the 90, sold
as a limited edition item. The latest Defender
comes with a new central locking system, new power
windows, new rear doors and an upgraded dashboard.
There will also be Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
and 4-wheel ETC (electronic traction control).
can put the shine back on the product, Dover,
46, would be one of them. He's also the man who
put the quality back into Jaguar after Ford bought
it and injected the prestigious brand into its
Premier Automotive Group.
of ROBERT A. DOVER President, Land Rover.
A. Dover, 56, was appointed president of Jaguar
and Land Rover and was a vice president of Ford
Motor Co on November 7 2001. Previously Dover
served as chairman and chief executive officer
of Land Rover.
joining Land Rover, Dover was chairman of Aston
Martin Lagonda, a position he took in April 1997.
Prior to that appointment, he was the chief programme
engineer responsible for the Jaguar XK8 sports
car. He has worked for Land Rover before - from
1984 to 1987 when he was Land Rover's director
of manufacturing. During this time, he was also
the product director for the original Discovery.
in Upminster, Essex in 1945, Dover holds a first
class honours degree in mechanical engineering
from Manchester University. After a spell in the
Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, he
entered the motor industry in 1968. He has held
senior positions with British Leyland, Land Rover,
Jaguar Cars and Massey-Ferguson.
married and lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
His interests include driving and restoring classic
cars - he owns a 1961 Daimler SP250 and a 1983
Morgan. He also plays tennis.