You know, I often forget that Land Rover was owned by BMW for a brief period in the 1990s. This is important information, I know, but in my defense I have a lot to keep track of in any given day. At any rate, in the latest example of the future of the auto industry being tie-ups, partnerships and joint ventures, we could soon see BMW reunite with what’s now called Jaguar Land Rover for more crossovers.
You may recall that Jaguar’s sales have suffered in recent months for not being able to meet the needs of the SUV- and crossover-crazed masses. (Uncertainty over Brexit hasn’t helped either.) So as it seeks to expand its crossover lineup, Jaguar could turn to BMW’s modular FAAR platform—and Land Rover could get in on that action too.
This comes to us from a report in the UK’s Autocar:
The deal between the two companies, which started with joint work on electric drive unit (EDU) development, also opens up the prospect of the introduction of a new entry-level Land Rover model alongside next-generation versions of the recently replaced Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport built off the BMW architecture.
[...] A pair of super-economical baby Jaguars – already in the early stages of development pending a green light for production in the middle of the next decade – could now be based on BMW’s new FAAR platform for front-wheel-drive models.
The two new models are expected to be a small SUV and a similarly sized coupé crossover and they are likely to carry the ‘Pace’ name as part of the firm’s SUV family.
In addition, the next-generation Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport models, which are due in the second half of the next decade, could be sibling vehicles to the next-generation Mini Countryman and BMW X1 models in a further deepening of the alliance.
We’ve known for a while that Jaguar and BMW are teaming up on engines and electric motors, but this proposed deal—which does not seem official yet—takes things to the next level with actual platform-sharing. This also lets Jaguar reduce its own investments in engines to focus on future technologies instead.
Also from that story, using the FAAR platform that underpins the Minis and front-drive BMWs gives Jaguar Land Rover the compact vehicles it’s needed for some time:
The FAAR architecture looks like a good fit for JLR because it is expected to span cars sized between 4.2m and 4.6m in length. Smaller FAAR-based cars are unlikely because the need to package batteries in the new models means there’s a minimum length for the architecture.
As that story notes, Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover faces a lot of challenges at the moment. Slow Jaguar sales, a collapsing Chinese market, the aforementioned Brexit, a need to meet ambitious EU emissions targets and the costs of electrification are all hanging heavily over the automaker. Turning to another automaker, especially a premium one like BMW, could be a good way to get these necessary products out while keeping costs down. (It could also be seen as some vindication for BMW’s powertrain strategy, which eschews electric-only architectures for “one size fits all” platforms for engines, hybrids and EVs alike.)
We’ve said this many times before but this is the way we expect the industry to go over the next few years, especially if sales continue to decline and the costs of electrification remain constant. You’ll see a lot more partnerships and even outright mergers in the years to come.
There is one thing I do wonder: so many modern cars drive exactly the same, with nearly identical turbocharged engines and often the same gearbox. If a Jaguar ends up feeling exactly like a BMW, because it is a BMW—will buyers actually care?