Q&A WITH NICK ROGERS, VEHICLE LINE DIRECTOR FEBRUARY 04, 2014
Q: What inspired the Range Rover Sport’s new design?
A: We wanted to make it the fastest, most agile vehicle that Land Rover had ever produced. The best way to do that was to focus on the backbone of the car and make the unibody whole body shell out of aluminum, which gave us a significant saving in weight. Typically cars that are lighter accelerate and decelerate faster and are more agile, so it absolutely fitted for the new Range Rover Sport to be significantly lighter.
Q: Is this a more environmentally friendly vehicle?
A: Yes. Firstly, because it’s significantly lighter. The vehicle uses less fuel, so that during its lifecycle it’s a lot more environmentally friendly.
The second piece lies in the manufacture. We use over 50% recycled aluminum, which uses significantly less energy. Also a traditional body shop would use an incredible amount of electricity to weld all the panels together. In our system, the robot simply applies these rivets that click [the aluminum body panels] together and so the carbon footprint in our body shop is several orders of magnitude less.
Q: Does the aluminum affect its driving dynamics?
A: It’s an absolute transformation from the previous vehicle. I was lucky enough to work on the previous vehicle from a blank sheet of paper, so I was extremely passionate about working with this vehicle. We were effectively getting into a new segment back in 2005 when we did the new Range Rover Sport. This time we understood that our customers wanted more of the luxury that the Range Rover offers, as well as a more exhilarating and dynamic drive.
Simply, the moment you get behind the wheel of this car you notice the amount of weight that’s disappeared. You notice that 4 or 5 people, thei whole body mass has disappeared when you get behind the wheel.
Q: Is this a landmark in the history of Land Rover?
A: Well it is. We’ve taken advantage of fantastic investment and support to really put down a state-of-the-art architecture and manufacturing system and produce what we think is simply just a stunning vehicle. But it’s worth remembering that way back in 1948 when the Wilks brothers started with the initial Land Rover the unibody of the initial vehicle was made of aluminum and riveted together. So we have been pioneering in the use of aluminum all the way back to our creation.
Q: Looking into the future of the brand, what do you see?
A: I’ve worked for the company now for 30 years and I’d definitely say that this is the most exciting and rewarding time that I’ve ever experienced. We’re making some superb products and every single penny that we make goes back into more products. We’ve got incredible pride and ambition as to what we want to continue to do with the brand.
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