Frankfurt Motor Show 2011: Gerry McGovern interview

Land Rover’s Director of Design, Gerry McGovern, tells the Telegraph all about his opinion-dividing concept for a new Defender.


Gerry McGovern, Director of Design at Land Rover, explains the design process and reaction to his concept for a new Defender, which is being displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show:

“These concepts [the DC 100 and DC100 Sport] show we are now getting serious about putting a new Defender into production. There’s been several sorts of reaction since the pictures first went out; most of it positive, some sitting on the fence and a small amount has been negative. I think that’s from the traditionalists. You need to remember, though, that we aren’t going to be able to sell the current vehicle after 2015 in some markets. It doesn’t meet modern crash standards, or emissions requirements and it’s got no air bags. It’s great, but it’s from a bygone era.

“A modern-day replacement needs to be lighter, with better aerodynamics and crash performance. I know it’s [the DC100 Defender concept] been criticised for having too much angle on the front, but you need that for modern aerodynamics. The original was an absolute example of form follows function, but that’s simply not relevant any more. We need to recognise that design is not just a consequence of engineering. That might be tough on the engineers but they came good on the [Range Rover] Evoque. This design demonstrates the level of stretch we have, it lends itself to a lot of reconfiguration. Look at the interior, it’s pretty stripped out and that’s deliberate.

“I am aware of the important situations this vehicle is going to be put in, but we also need to start somewhere, with a design. Of course we start with the basics of approach and departure angles and a high sill section, those things are given, but we are still talking about a platform, so the design is a starting point, a statement. Yes, it needs to be as hard as nails, durable and capable, but it also has to be applicable to other markets. Look at the split, there are 2.5 million off road vehicles sold a year, five million of them are car-like SUVs. Do we want to a part of that market? This design gives us a chance to work across those markets, nothing is ruled out. And Mr Tata [Ratan Tata, head of Jaguar Land Rover owner, the Tata Group] was over the moon with it. ‘Stick to your guns,’ he told me and I am.”

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