Marin Burela is leading Land Rover through a year of change. The 39-year-old Australian joined Land Rover in July, after its purchase by Ford Motor Co. He is director of manufacturing.
Burela has been with Ford since February 1984, most recently on a special development assignment with its U.S. sales and marketing division. He also has held a top executive post at Ford's plant in Dagenham, England.
Burela is charged with increasing annual production from 170,000 units to 300,000 and fitting Land Rover into Ford's Premier Automotive Group. The luxury-vehicle unit also includes Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo and Aston-Martin.
Within the Premier Group, Volvo is planning a crossover sport-utility, and other Ford Motor nameplates such as Ford and Mazda have introduced similar products. But Burela says Land Rover still has a niche because the brands 'build different products for different customer bases.' Land Rover is the only company providing 4x4 capability in all its models, he said.
The key consideration will be maintaining the essence of the brand, Burela said: 'In our case, it is simple: It has to be effective, adventurous. It has to have guts to be a Land Rover.'
As the company moves to launch the new Range Rover in the second half of 2001 - with a powertrain from former owner BMW AG - Burela said the company is investing in training and equipment to improve quality.
'Are we competitive in all the things we do? Probably not. Do we all know what we have to do to get there? Most definitely yes. Have we developed a plan to get there? The answer is yes. Are we confident? Yes.'