What Do You Call Your Land Rover?
There are many ways to refer to one’s car, the chillest and most normal being “my car.” If you own a non-luxury car, you can also get away with “my Chevy” or “my ‘Yota” or “my VW,” especially if your VW is old. If you have a luxury car, you cannot get away with much, as certainly no one wants to hear about your “Lexus” or your “BMW” and definitely not your “Bentley” or your “Infiniti.” The rules are broken — a bit — for supercars, in that if you own a Lambo or Ferrari you’ve spent a lot of money for the right to tell people about your Lambo or Ferrari, unless that Lambo or Ferrari is an SUV. For other SUVs — primarily those that aspire to have off-road capability, real or otherwise — it is also perfectly acceptable to say “my Jeep” or even “my Bronco,” if you’re feeling like leaning into lame. If you have a Land Rover, meanwhile, have some self-respect and simply call it a Land Rover.
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Now, this all comes up, today, because of the news Wednesday that Jaguar Land Rover — which has been owned for over a decade by Tata Motors, which is not British — would be de-emphasizing the Land Rover name. Or “distancing” itself from it, as MotorTrend puts it. Instead, Jaguar Land Rover will emphasize that some people call Jaguar Land Rover “JLR,” while also leaning into the names Range Rover, Jaguar, Discovery, and Defender, two of which are Land Rover models and one of which sort of still is.
Shifting the Land Rover brand name to a supporting role isn’t as controversial a move as it might seem, says [JLR chief creative officer Gerry McGovern]. “The reality is Range Rover is already a brand,” he insists. “So is Defender. We love the Land Rover name, but it doesn’t have as much equity as Range Rover, and Defender is rising fast,” McGovern claims, adding that current buyers of those vehicles use those brand names rather than Land Rover when describing what they drive. “People tell us they drive a Range Rover, not a Land Rover.”
A spokesperson added, somewhat confusingly: “Land Rover will remain. It is strong, well known and we will use that collective strength to give our brands authenticity and purpose. The Land Rover name remain on our vehicles, reinforcing our all terrain credentials and technology capabilities.”
JLR’s goal, says McGovern, is to become the creator of the world’s most desirable luxury brands, and this is what is driving what he calls a ‘house of brands’ strategy that will allow JLR to elevate the unique characteristics of each of its four uniquely British nameplates. Each, he says, will have its own unique interpretation of modern luxury – Range Rover’s is refined modernism, Defender’s brutalist modernism, Discovery’s eclectic modernism, and Jaguar’s exuberant modernism.
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A British colleague of mine informs me that in the UK, the proper thing to tell people if you own a Land Rover Defender is to tell people that you own a Land Rover, while if you own a Discovery it is acceptable to tell people you own merely a Discovery, and the same goes for Range Rover. In the States, it’s probably true that many Range Rover owners aren’t even aware of the Land Rover connection, given Range Rover’s history here, and so “Range Rover” is acceptable on first reference.
If someone tells you here that they own a Defender or Discovery, meanwhile, without merely saying that it is a Land Rover, you should regard them with suspicion. If they refer to their vehicle as a “Landy” or “Disco” or their JLR car as a, god forbid, “Jag,” you should walk away slowly.
If you own a Land Rover, you should call it a Land Rover, precisely because JLR apparently doesn’t want you to anymore, and because that perfectly communicates all anyone needs to know, in the same way that if you own a Jeep, you should call it a Jeep, and nothing more, which would be risking trouble, or at least social ostracization. If you own a Jaguar, tell people you own a car. Alternatively, in the case of Jaguar and Land Rover, you could tell people you own a “JLR product,” and no one will know what you’re talking about, and that will be for the best.