What is So Special About Land Rovers?
At just 21” X 30.25”, the Mona Lisa isn’t an especially large painting. Yet the most famous portrait in the world is said to be assessed (for insurance purposes) at upwards of $2.67 billion—or over $4 million per square inch. Which seems absurd. But that is merely the opinion of someone (me) who doesn’t swoon over the painting—nor marvel at its subject’s iconic smile. Neither do I fully understand the rarified world of fine art, where passionate collectors—in competition with other passionate collectors—routinely pony-up astronomical sums of money for paintings most of us have never seen. Let alone for the ones we have seen.
Such an off-the-wall example (pun intended) is another way of saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If someone truly appreciates the Mona Lisa for its artistic techniques and aesthetic qualities, is aware of its centuries-old provenance, and understands the investment value of truly exceptional art, who’s to say that Mona isn’t worth every dime of her insured value?
The same could be said about most any high-value item. If it is truly precious and produced in limited quantities, its market price will be shrugged off by anyone who cannot only afford to buy it but who also appreciates what it represents, how it is made, how few there are; and how many people would love to have one.
Which brings us to Range Rover. Face it, Americans love their cars. And the more prestigious the car, the better. Otherwise we’d be a nation of Toyota Corollas. Therefore, it only seems natural that anyone who appreciates how a Range Rover is designed and built would aspire to owning one.
Every major automobile manufacturer produces an aspirational brand, so called because it gives them the opportunity to retain their upwardly mobile customers by trading them up to a better class of vehicle. Once upon a time, GM had its Cadillac, Ford had its Lincoln Continental and Chrysler introduced its Imperial to compete with the two. Later Toyota spun off Lexus and Nissan rolled out Infiniti to compete for their share of the luxury class.
At the end of the day, however, a Lexus was not much different than the best Toyota, a Cadillac was pretty much the same as a top-of-the-line Oldsmobile and Lincoln was often called a “gussied-up Ford.” And with good reason. A look under the hood of these higher end brands would reveal that many of their parts were no different than the ones being used to assemble their lower priced cousins. Only their luxury branded exteriors and well-appointed passenger compartments were different—and sometimes not by very much. It was the name on the vehicle that made all the difference, with its reputation for status and luxury proclaiming its owner’s good taste and fortune. If the sticker price made you squirm, you probably couldn’t afford it anyway.
Indeed, a Range Rover might cost less—perhaps considerably less—if it could similarly reduce its production costs by sharing parts with one of its lesser relations. Like Lexus does with Toyota. Except there simply aren’t any sister brands—or many similar models underneath its own brand umbrella—for Range Rover to borrow from.
Indeed over $1.5 billion was spent to design and produce its own unique engine for the Range Rover. And that’s before another billion was used to erect its assembly plant. Thus nearly $2.5 billion was spent before a single Range Rover rolled off the line. Plus, it takes more than six times longer to assemble a Range Rover compared with more mass-produced vehicles. This means that fewer can be produced each year to help amortize the brand’s overall production costs. Additionally, frequent re-designs and upgrades to the powertrain are necessary to accommodate ever-evolving technologies and shifting customer preferences. These realities of production add upwards of 10 to 20 percent to the MSRP of each new Range Rover which further tamps down on the number sold each year.
The artistry that goes into the design and production of the Range Rover notwithstanding, the vehicle delivers both dependable all-wheel drive as well as the most luxurious passenger experience in its class. Getting behind the wheel, sitting up high, and taking it off-road for a spin will make you realize these benefits like nothing else will.
They’re enough to make Mona crack her billion-dollar smile.