Land Rover confirmed that they will no longer showcase new concept vehicles to prevent foreign automakers from copying their designs. This explains, in part, why the company their most recent luxury behemoth, the Range Rover Velar, without teasing buyers with a concept car. While concepts are a useful way to test new styling and stoke interest in an upcoming model, Land Rover no longer has that luxury. The company faces an existential threat from cheap copycats in China.
China is now the largest automotive market on the planet and a necessary one for luxury automakers. International carmakers not only have to deal with mandatory technology-sharing with domestic partners, but they also have to fight endless numbers of shameless local copies. Chinese courts don’t show any respect international copyright law, and local companies parade stolen designs at the Beijing Auto Show with impunity. That hasn’t stopped Land Rover from suing Jianling Motors for the “Landwind” X7, a straight-up copy of the Range Rover Evoque. But the company isn’t anticipating any lasting resolution to the problem in court.
Instead, company design chief Gerry McGovern confirmed that Land Rover will no longer demo new concepts because they give other automakers too much time to copy their design. Land Rover obviously believes that they need all the lead-time they can get in the market before the first derivative piece of crap arrives. Land Rover has a distinctive look and design that makes the brand easy to copy, and they need to protect their unique appeal for as long as they can. I wonder if more automakers will try this tactic in the future—and I’m disappointed we won’t see any new concepts from Land Rover. Hey, let’s take this to the next level. Land Rover should roll out fake concepts with weird new styling just to screw with copycats and thieves. That would be awesome.