Land Rover to introduce convertible Evoque SUV

Elisabeth Behrmann
Bloomberg News

Land Rover plans to start sales of a convertible version of the Evoque sport utility vehicle next year, marking its first modern open-top model.

“The convertible market isn’t huge, but it’s an opportunity for us,” Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover’s product marketing director, said at an event at the Geneva International Motor Show.

While SUVs have become widely popular around the world, ragtop versions are rare. In addition to topless variants of offroaders like Jeep’s Wrangler, Nissan Motor Co. makes the $41,995 Murano CrossCabriolet.

The convertible Evoque, displayed as a concept car in Geneva in 2012, is part of an ongoing expansion by Jaguar Land Rover, the British luxury-car maker owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd. The plans include the Jaguar F-PACE, the brand’s first crossover next year.

The U.K. manufacturer aims to boost sales to a record of more than 500,000 vehicles this year as the entry-level Jaguar XE sedan and the Land Rover Discovery Sport SUV go on sale. Jaguar Land Rover sold 462,678 vehicles in 2014, an increase of 9 percent for its fifth straight year of growth.

The addition of lower-priced models, like the $41,500 XE, will mean lower profitability, Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth said.

“Our overall margins will decline as we’ll sell smaller cars,” Speth told reporters in Geneva, declining to specify the drop. “Jaguar Land Rover is still set to deliver a solid profit” during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016.

The variant of the $41,100 Evoque will be built at the company’s plant in Halewood, England.

“It’s important that the car will still have the unparalleled traction and still have offroad capability of a Land Rover,” said McFall. “It’s interesting to remember that the very first Land Rovers, around 1948, were also open-top cars.”