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Freelander returns! Land Rover to revive line of mainstream family SUVs as electric car sub-brand in joint-venture with Chery - and they could eventually be headed to Australia

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2013 Land Rover Freelander 2.
2013 Land Rover Freelander 2.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will revive the Freelander name to stand independently as another pillar alongside its Discovery, Defender, and Range Rover SUV line-ups.

Freelander will return in a range of ‘mainstream’ fully electric SUVs as part of JLR’s 50/50 joint-venture in China with Chery, which already assembles much of the British marques luxury range exclusively for China.

The Freelander nameplate was axed in 2015 after an 18-year run across two generations of small SUV (Freelander 1 and Freelander 2), both of which were based on a version of Ford’s CD (Mondeo) platform and served as the entry-point to the Land Rover range.

It was succeeded by both the Range Rover Evoque in the small category and the Land Rover Discovery Sport in the mid-size space. 

The re-invigorated Freelander brand will also be the entry-point to the Land Rover range (which the brand itself describes as “mainstream” as opposed to “luxury”), and will utilise Chery’s EV platform.

2013 Land Rover Freelander 2.
2013 Land Rover Freelander 2.

JLR says the Freelander range will initially be a China-only offering offered through a “distinct network”, but in the future it will be “destined for global export.”

The company also says the new Freelander range will be designed in collaboration with Chery and be built at the brand’s existing facility in Changshu. Land Rover describes the move as an “Important strategic step” for both brands to develop new models for “the world’s largest and fastest-growing electric vehicle market.”

1999 Land Rover Freelander 1.
1999 Land Rover Freelander 1.

Jaguar Land Rover, still owned by India’s Tata Motors, maintains two design and engineering sites, three manufacturing plants, an engine plant and a battery assembly plant in the UK. It has had a 12 year relationship with Chery as a joint-venture partner in China.

Meanwhile Chery, now back in Australia after a significant eight-year hiatus, is China’s fifth largest automotive manufacturer, and like SAIC Motor (which owns MG and LDV) is state-owned.

The ‘Chery EV architecture’ mentioned could be one of several platforms the company deploys in China. Many are suggesting it will use a version of the M3X platform (co developed with Magna international) which underpins several current Chery Exceed SUVs.

The Chery and Magna developed M3X platform.
The Chery and Magna developed M3X platform.

There are several other platforms deployed by Chery which could also serve as the basis for Freelander products, like its E0X electric platform which is said to have been benchmarked specifically against the underpinnings of the Tesla Model Y.

According to Chinese media, Chery has recently confirmed Land Rover is interested in utilising both platforms as part of the joint venture in the future.

2024 Chery Exceed RX.
2024 Chery Exceed RX.

Next for Land Rover in Australia will be the continued roll-out of its electrified range, including plug-in hybrids and eventually a fully-electric version of the new Range Rover, but Jaguar will continue to languish with only the I-Pace before its range is revitalised by a range of new EVs in the near future.

Chery’s Australian offerings are also set to expand, with the low-cost Tiggo 4 small SUV and Omoda E5 electric small SUV both set to arrive before the end of 2024. From next year, it also plans to roll out its Jaecoo semi-premium SUV sub-brand, but has ruled out its Jetour off-roaders for now.

Tom White
Senior Journalist
Despite studying ancient history and law at university, it makes sense Tom ended up writing about cars, as he spent the majority of his waking hours finding ways to drive as many as possible. His fascination with automobiles was also accompanied by an affinity for technology growing up, and he is just as comfortable tinkering with gadgets as he is behind the wheel. His time at CarsGuide has given him a nose for industry news and developments at the forefront of car technology.
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