The Immortal: why Range Rover sales keep rising
The economics of a new model are relatively straightforward. In the first couple of years of its life, the manufacturer tries to sell it at full price, in the middle two or three years, they try to minimise the discounts, and in the last two years they simply try to avoid making a loss on the car as discounts get ever larger.
These rules apply to most mainstream models (premium brands tend to suffer less as they age), but nothing avoids the trap better than the Range Rover. With the same contempt it would display for a small puddle, the Range Rover continues its imperious progress through the sales charts. In 2011, the Mark Three's tenth, and probably last year, sales will be higher than at any time since 2007 – and that is not because dealers have started putting discount signs on the windscreens.
Indeed prices are edging up, not down. Range Rover was rather shocked by the demand for the £120,000 Ultimate edition launched in 2010 (the original run of 250 had to be increased to over 650), and has decided it has rather been underselling the brand – despite the £80K price tag. The Mark Five Range Rover is likely to be a lot more expensive, partly because it wants to stop other companies getting any ideas. There is talk of Bentley making a super Range Rover, but Land Rover is determined that the ultimate off-roader comes from Solihull. The fact that Range Rover shares its initials with Rolls-Royce is more than a coincidence: the point of both is to be the ultimate in their respective fields.
The reason the current Range Rover has not suffered as it has aged is threefold. Firstly, the original design was as close to timeless as you can get. While BMW never seemed to know what to do with Rover Cars, it completely understood the Range Rover and the model designed on its watch is an object lesson in how to update an iconic design (in this case the Mark One original, not the bland Mark Two Range Rover). Secondly, the car has been continually updated throughout its life – new engines, new gearboxes and new instruments are only the most obvious. Thirdly, people are buying into the concept of a Range Rover, not simply buying a product. If they think the Range Rover is the ultimate Off-Roader, they will buy it regardless of whether the design in three years old or ten years old.
So, if you have always fancied a Range Rover, think about buying the current model. Normally, buyers should always wait for an imminent new model, but the next one is going to command a six-figure price – and the current one still feels as fresh as it did in 2002.