Range Rover has been part of the Jaguar Land Rover Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Motors, since 2008, when Tata acquired the Jaguar Land Rover businesses from Ford Motor Company for $2.3 billion. Thus, Range Rover is owned by Tata Motors, primarily by the Tata family, which controls the company via its holding (Tata Sons Pvt Limited), the largest shareholder, with 46.33% ownership.
The Range Rover is a luxury SUV produced by British automaker Land Rover. It was first introduced in 1970 by British Leyland as a full-size 4×4 and has since become more associated with luxury and prestige.
Here is a brief look at the history of Range Rover and the various companies that have owned the Range Rover marque.
The Rover Company
The origins of the Range Rover can be traced back to The Rover Company in the early 1950s. During World War II, the company’s factory was expanded to produce armaments. But after the war ended, Rover could not sell enough vehicles to make efficient use of its vast floor space.
Rover founders Maurice and Spencer Wilkins then had the idea to produce a 4WD utility vehicle that was bound to be popular. Developed for military and agricultural purposes, the Land Rover’s durability and simple design made it an international hit.
However, the Wilkins brothers were concerned about the longevity of the vehicle as the post-war economy improved. To broaden its appeal, they needed to make the Land Rover a more inviting place for everyday drivers and their passengers.
The first iteration, known as the 80-inch Station Wagon, debuted at the end of 1948 and offered a somewhat less spartan interior and extra equipment. That model was a commercial failure because it was too expensive and was subsequently dropped in 1951
That same year, the Wilkins brothers worked with designer Gordon Bashford on another concept called the Road Rover. Unlike the Station Wagon which prioritized off-road capability, the Road Rover prioritized practicality, driveability, and durability and was based on a shortened version of a Rover P4 chassis.
Development of the Road Rover stalled in the 1950s for various reasons. The Wilkins brothers’ prediction that Land Rover sales would decrease proved to be unfounded, and Rover’s P4 saloons consumed most of the company’s R&D resources in any case.
Nevertheless, Bashford continued to work on various Road Rover prototypes in the background before the project was finally shelved in 1958.
The Range Rover is launched
More than a decade passed before Rover seriously considered relaunching the project. Having observed the success of models like the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wagoneer in America, the company was perhaps finally convinced that there may be a market for a model called the Range Rover.
In 1969, a prototype known as the Velar was developed. Twenty-six of the top-secret vehicles were built and road-tested, with the name Velar derived from the Italian word velare which means to conceal or cover.
The Range Rover was revealed to the public on June 17, 1970, and consumer demand for the vehicle was immediate and sustained.
With a price tag of just £1998, no other car could boast the combination of excellent off-road capability, elegant design, superior driving position, and a V8 engine whose power was delivered to all four wheels.
Land Rover Limited
Land Rover was spun out from parent company British Leyland (BL) in 1979.
The move was precipitated by the commercial success of the Range Rover and to a lesser extent, the Land Rover. But British Leyland was also in financial trouble and had neglected the Range Rover to focus on other models where the majority of sales were.
Range Rover had been successful despite BL’s management (not because of it) and would from this point have to fend for itself.
Fortunately, there was an injection of capital following the restructuring which was invested into engineering and marketing in particular. Three new models were also developed over the 1980s, including the Monteverdi, Vogue, and the first with an automatic transmission borrowed from a Chrysler.
Range Rover remained a part of Land Rover Limited for more than 20 years and enjoyed many successful model releases.
The brand underwent various ownership changes over the early 2000s. Land Rover was sold to Ford in May 2000 for £1.85 billion after two months of negotiations with BMW. At the time, the German automaker owned Rover itself.
Six years later, Ford acquired the Rover brand name from BMW and reunited the Rover and Land Rover brands. Under Ford, the two brands were also joined by Jaguar.
In 2008, Indian maker Tata Motors established the British-registered subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover Limited. This company was set up by Tata to house the two businesses it intended to purchase from Ford, and this deal was completed in June for $2.23 billion.
Lastly, in 2013, a major restructuring saw the parent company renamed Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC. Jaguar Cars Limited was renamed Jaguar Land Rover Limited (JLR), and Land Rover’s assets were transferred to the entity.
JLR thus became responsible for the design, marketing, and manufacturing of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles and products in the United Kingdom. It remains a subsidiary of Tata Motors today and is headquartered in the city of Coventry.
- The Range Rover is a luxury SUV produced by British automaker Land Rover. It was first introduced in 1970 by British Leyland as a full-size 4×4 and has since become more associated with luxury and prestige.
- The origins of the Range Rover can be traced back to The Rover Company in the early 1950s. During World War II, the company’s factory was expanded to produce armaments. But after it ended, Rover could not sell enough vehicles to make efficient use of its vast floor space. It developed the Land Rover and later Range Rover to appeal to a broader target audience and drive more sales.
- Though prototypes existed in the 1950s, more than a decade passed before Rover seriously considered the possibility of developing a Range Rover model. The company’s decision was made easier after it observed the success of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wagoneer in America.
- Land Rover was spun out from parent company British Leyland (BL) in 1979 and remained under the Land Rover Limited division for more than twenty years. It was again restructured in the mid-2000s in a convoluted process that involved Ford, BMW, Jaguar, and Tata Motors.