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New electric Range Rover takes aim at Bentley and Rolls-Royce

The new Range Rover will push upmarket when it arrives in 2021, and will be offered with mild-hybrid, plug-in and fully electric powertrains

Land Rover is in the midst of the largest product overhaul in its history, which will involve the firm launching a fully electric Range Rover for the very first time.

The fifth-generation Range Rover, due in 2021, will be the most radical and technically advanced there has been in the SUV’s 50-year history. It will be a completely new model, based on Land Rover’s new Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) that can accommodate mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains.

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Engineers have been testing prototypes around the firm’s HQ in Gaydon for a year. The development mules are a combination of new running gear and existing Range Rover bodyshells, which don’t give much away in terms of the SUV’s new look.

Land Rover bosses have focused on moving the Range Rover even further upmarket, due to increased competition in the segment from the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The look of the newcomer will play a leading role in that, as previewed by our exclusive images.

The challenge Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern is facing is what to do with the electric Range Rover, which will launch after the standard hybrid and plug-in models, around 2022. McGovern told Auto Express that his design team is taking an ‘evolutionary’ approach with the next model, but the flexibility afforded to the team by the use of an electric powertrain means there are various options for how an electric Range Rover could look.

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“There are two basic approaches,” McGovern told us. “There’s one that says if it’s an all-electric vehicle, it gives you the ability to free up your proportions. So you could have a more cab-forward approach. And then the question is, is that right for Land Rover?

“Or do you just forget about what the proportion system is, and design the car round its relevance to the consumer and optimising it in terms of what it’s capable of doing in terms of its on-road/off-road abilities, in terms of its functionality, its storage, its versatility and all those things?”

Every edition of the next Range Rover will be built at JLR’s Solihull factory, which received a £500million investment boost last year. Fully electric, hybrid and diesel models can be produced on the site following the cash injection.

The mechanical makeup of the electric Range Rover is still unknown, but the MLA platform allows for two electric motors to be fitted, one on each axle, for four-wheel drive. The size of the new model will also enable Land Rover to fit a battery as large as 100kWh, if desired, comfortably giving the SUV a range in excess of 300 miles.

McGovern added: “The Range Rover, whether it’s electric or not, is a car that’s loved the world over and it’s highly differentiated from anything. Thinking about the next-generation model, would you change it just so you could say that, because it’s electric, we don’t really need a bonnet any more, so let’s pull the cab forward and end up looking like a bus or a van?

“You have to be really careful how you deal with that, and if you look at the Range Rover Sport and Evoque, they’ve all evolved – they’re evolutionary, they’re not deliberately, dramatically going away from what they were before. They become more modern, they become more technically capable. We’ve embraced technology to enable the design to be more modern.”

Do you like the look of our exclusive Range Rover images? Let us know your thoughts below...

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