JLR’s Freelander is coming back, but now totally electric

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is reviving its Freelander brand for future electric cars. The Freelander models will be based on a platform from its Chinese partner Chery Automotive, built in China and sold only there for the time being. However, export to the rest of the world is envisaged.

Not so long ago, JLR revealed its plans to cooperate with the Chinese Chery Group on electrification; the Freelander seems to be the first result of this cooperation.

E0X platform

The Freelander will probably be based on the Chery E0X platform, even if JLR does not specify this name in its official announcement. According to the media reports from last week, the E0X platform will be used for JLR electric cars, while the M3X platform will be used for future plug-in hybrids.

The E0X platform is destined for BEVs and EREVs /Chery

So far, only the production plan for the electric cars has now been confirmed: the Freelander brand electric cars are to be manufactured in Changshu, China, “based on Chery’s EV architecture”, as JLR writes.

Chery and Huawei jointly developed the E0X platform, which covers the A to C segment and can be used for both purely battery-electric vehicles and electric vehicles with range extenders (EREVs). The platform supports 800- and 400-volt system architectures.

The vehicles are officially being built for the 50:50 joint venture CJLR (Chery-JLR) and will be sold in China under the Freelander brand, at least initially. JLR adds that they are also intended for later export worldwide.

Freelander is back

Freelander was a Land Rover model until 2015, when it was replaced by the Discovery Sport in 2016. In the ‘House of Brands’ strategy, Land Rover is no longer the official brand name, and the company operates as JLR. Instead, the partly iconic model names such as Defender or Discovery have been elevated to brand names.

The Freelander was Land Rover’s smallest offering until 2015 /JLR

The fact that the Freelander name, which has not been used for almost a decade, only has an indirect connection to the current JLR portfolio seems entirely desirable.

“Marking the beginning of a new strategic phase for CJLR, Freelander will become a brand reborn under license from JLR as part of a new value creation system independent from both Chery’s existing portfolio and JLR’s modern luxury House of Brands,” JLR announced. Freelander will, therefore, not be placed on an equal footing with Defender and Discovery inside the JLR portfolio.

Complementing existing business

“Today, we are taking this important strategic step for JLR, one which underlines our ongoing commitment to China and complements our existing business in China,” said JLR CEO Adrian Mardell.

“We believe that working together to develop new models of collaboration for the world’s largest and fastest-growing electric vehicle market, combined with the appeal of the Freelander brand, promises a very exciting future for CJLR,” he added.

Yin Tongyue, CEO of Chery Group, responded: “Chery and JLR are forging an innovative collaboration model that epitomizes our growth path for the future. The blend of Chery’s advanced EV technology with the distinctive appeal of the Freelander brand will undoubtedly provide China and global consumers with a unique electric vehicle experience.”

Taking the challenge

Jaguar Land Rover is also reviving the Freelander as an electric SUV to compete with BYD in China, the world’s largest EV market. Although the company has grown steadily in the region over the past six years, China’s premium auto market is moving quickly. The company said the growth is “propelled by premium segment growth coupled with rapid electric vehicles penetration.”

Chinese automakers, like BYD, aim for the luxury segment with new energy brands like Yangwang. BYD’s Yangwang brand began delivering its first vehicle in December 2023, the U8 off-road SUV, starting at over $150,000 (1,089,000 yuan). In February, it launched the U9 electric sports car, and there is also a U7 sedan bound for Europe.

The U8 from Yangwang, a BYD luxury brand, is clearly aiming at the same customers as JLR’s luxury off-road products /Yangwang

Meanwhile, the waiting list for the Range Rover Electric, the brand’s first EV, has doubled over the past few months. As the “quietest and most refined Range Rover ever created,” the EV already creates a buzz. In February, JLR said the Range Rover EV was already “generating strong interest,” with over 16,000 buyers on the waitlist.

That number has already doubled. During ‘Investor Day 2024’ on Tuesday, JLR revealed that the Range Rover Electric waitlist had reached over 38,000, up 137%. JLR added that the electric SUV has garnered over 186 million views on social media channels, as buyers seem to be eagerly awaiting the first Range Rover EV.

The first electric car from Range Rover is eagerly awaited for, apparently /JLR

 

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