If you were among the millions of people who watched the royal wedding, you may have noticed the vast number of Land Rover vehicles present during the ceremonies. The pre-eminence of vehicles from this luxury British brand was no doubt a nod to their long-standing association with the royal family. In fact, Land Rover supplied the first bespoke ‘State Review’ car for the Royal Family in 1953, and it is one of the two automotive companies to hold all three Royal Warrants from Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
A SUCCESS STORY
Setting aside nationalistic considerations, one can assume that the Royal Family has come to appreciate Land Rover vehicles for the style, distinctiveness, capability, and performance of their products – qualities that have allowed this premium manufacturer to stand out in the automotive landscape.
BRINGING TAILOR-MADE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The appeal and interest garnered by Land Rover has no doubt engendered an interest in unique vehicles that bring capability, exclusivity, distinctiveness and performance to the next level. It is from this demand that Special Vehicle Operations was born. The division is responsible for producing “halo models, limited-run collector’s editions and high-specification vehicles,” as well as special task vehicles – for use in diplomatic roles or for the film industry, for example. Of course, projects like this are far from a new reality for Land Rover, but Special Vehicle Operations brings the management, specialists, tools and facilities responsible for these projects under one roof.
STATE-OF-THE ART FACILITIES
The division operates from its own state-of-the-art facility – the Land Rover Center of Excellence, located near Coventry, England. The 215,000 square feet facility houses a team of 250 automotive specialists, a world-class paint facility and 40 engineering inspection bays. Special Vehicle Operations is thus able to perform mechanical, design and technological improvements in-house. As stated by John Edwards, managing director of Special Vehicle Operations:
“SVO is about pushing the boundaries and making vehicles that stand out. These are not just great looking cars. We make outstanding cars. Cars with real substance and real integrity.”
SVO: AREAS OF FOCUS
A real advantage of SVO is the ability to really accentuate the strengths of a vehicle and focus efforts on maximizing them. As such, Special Vehicle Operations produces three distinct categories of vehicles:
- SVAutobiography represents ultimate luxury. So far, the one model to have received this badge is the Range Rover SVAutobiography, available in Dynamic and Long Wheelbase versions.
- The SVX badge is used to describe models modified and optimized to maximize all-terrain capability. The Land Rover Discovery SVX, planned for 2019, will be the first model to wear this badge.
- SVR describes vehicles optimized to maximize on-road performance. The first vehicle launched from SVO was the Range Rover Sport SVR, which upon its introduction set the lap time record for a production SUV at the Nürburgring, as well as the overall record for a production vehicle at the Pikes Peak hill climb and on the 99-turn Tianmen road in China.
In addition to these advanced models, Special Vehicle Operations is also involved in producing limited-run collector’s editions, such as the upcoming XE SV Project 8, which has already beaten a Nürburgring lap record. Furthermore, SVO is responsible for vehicles adapted to very specific tasks. For instance, the Range Rover SENTINEL is an armoured version, well suited to use by diplomatic corps, while the Land Rover Project Hero is an advanced communication concept vehicle equipped with a drone, which will be trialled by the Austrian Red Cross to analyze how it may help speed up response times in search and rescue missions.
AN EXCITING FUTURE
Special Vehicle Operations may be quite new, but there is no denying that in their short existence they have already succeeded in providing vehicles that bring exclusivity, performance, luxury and capability, while also being able to modify Land Rover vehicles to perform and excel in any role. It will be fascinating to see what vehicles are produced in the future by this elite division of Land Rover.