ORLANDO, Fla. -- 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 was speaking after a breakfast meeting for Land Rover dealers.
The next-generation small SUV is scheduled to go on sale in Europe this fall and then arrive in North America in spring 2007. It replaces the Freelander sold here from 2001 through 2005. Land Rover stopped importing the Freelander to the United States last year.
Beattie wouldn't reveal what the new name might be. In the past, Land Rover officials have said they want to move to alphanumeric names. A spokesman said Land Rover would say more about the possible new name this summer.
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 adopted 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 the prior year.
But the new Range Rover Sport, which is performing well, was available only during the second half of 2005. A full year of the Range Rover Sport will propel a sales increase in 2006, Beattie said.
- More supercharged Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports will be allocated to U.S. dealers. Inventories right now are extremely tight. Days supply is in the mid-teens for supercharged models, Beattie said.
Dealers want more volume of both supercharged and regular models, said Michael Levitan, head of Land Rover's dealer council. He has some customers who wait 90 days or more for their orders.
"It's a nice problem for us. Obviously, the dealers would like a little more," said Levitan, who also is the Land Rover-Jaguar division president for the Long Island Automotive Group. "But you have to balance that. You don't want to saturate the market."
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