Land Rover likely will rename its entry-level SUV in the United States when a redesigned model goes on sale here next year.
"It probably won't be called the Freelander," said Richard Beattie, executive vice president of marketing, sales and communications for Land Rover North America Inc. He spoke after a breakfast meeting Saturday for Land Rover dealers.
The next-generation small SUV is scheduled to go on sale in Europe this fall and in North America in the spring of 2007. It replaces the Freelander sold here from 2001 through 2005.
Beattie wouldn't reveal the possible new name. Land Rover officials have said they want to move to alphanumeric names. Land Rover will say more about the name this summer, a spokesman said.
Officials wouldn't confirm whether the Freelander name would be preserved in other markets.
But Mike O'Driscoll, North American president of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, said the company may take the approach it used when it replaced the Discovery in 2004. The redesigned model is called the LR3 in North America and the Discovery 3 in the rest of the world.
Land Rover executives also told dealers:
- U.S. sales in 2006 are expected to top last year's 2005 record mark by a double-digit percentage. Land Rover sold 46,175 vehicles in 2005, a 30 percent increase from 2004.
- More supercharged Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports will be allocated to U.S. dealers. Beattie said that inventories are extremely tight with days supply in the midteens.
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