Before the Discovery Sport, Land Rover had the Freelander. It was the company’s first model with a unibody and was subsequently sold in the United States as the LR2 during the second generation. The entry-level vehicle was discontinued in early 2015 after being in production for a little over 14 years. Now, it’s coming back. Well, sort of.

Land Rover is dusting off the “Freelander” moniker for a series of electric vehicles that will be assembled in China. To make it happen, it’s once again teaming up with local automaker Chery with which it has had a 12-year relationship. The two have inked a new deal to manufacture EVs on a Chery-developed platform at a factory in Changshu. Initially, the products will be sold exclusively in China but there are plans for global exports.

Here’s the kicker. The reborn Freelander lineup will be marketed independently from Land Rover and Chery through a “distinct retailer network.” It effectively means the plan is to create a new sub-brand because JLR apparently doesn’t have enough of those already. The objective is to sell “mainstream” EVs, which tells us these will be cheaper than the current crop of Land Rovers.

The new models will be designed with input from both Land Rover and Chery, which operate the 50:50 CJLR joint venture formed in 2012. This JV is responsible for making the Discovery Sport, Evoque, E-Pace, and stretched XF and XE sedans. Little else is known about the reborn Freelander, but reports from China state the EVs could be mechanically related to Exeed, a Chery sub-brand launching in Europe by 2026.

JLR is far from being the first global automaker to announce deeper ties with Chinese brands in recent times. Just a few months ago, VW revealed its intention to work with Xpeng for several China-centric EVs. Audi detailed a similar agenda but with SAIC.

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Last Update: June 20, 2024