As Design Director and Chief Creative Officer for Land Rover Gerry McGovern is a critically acclaimed automotive design leader. His early career took in stints at Chrysler, Peugeot and Rover Group, where he was lead designer of the MGF sports car, Land Rover Freelander and third generation Range Rover. After a spell at Ford Motor Company heading up Lincoln-Mercury, McGovern returned to the UK. He was appointed Land Rover Design Director in 2006. In October 2014 he was announced as a Visiting Professor at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London.
I spent the last week in California which could be perceived as the home of the automobile. Los Angeles was the first world city to build itself around the motor car rather than simply make way for it and the LA Motor show which takes place every November is one of the highlights of my working year.
I love cities and the architecture they produce, but while working and living in California in the 90’s I also loved to get away from the urban sprawl and drive up Pacific coast highway. I had a place in Monarch Beach and in my opinion the PCH is the finest coastal road in the world – to experience the extraordinary diversity of the natural environment as well as savour the twists and turns of the iconic route. If you’ve never driven it you’re in the right place because the drive south to north easily surpasses the drive north to south.
But perhaps California’s greatest contribution to the automobile is this very environment – a year round temperate climate that allows us to get out and experience everything this part of the world has to offer and for much of the year you can do it with the top down. Which is why we felt this was the perfect place in which to unveil the first luxury convertible from Land Rover.
Although this vehicle is a soft top, Land Rover hasn’t gone soft. We have always designed vehicles that are more than equal to whatever the terrain in which you may wish to use it. But over the last few years we have been intent on designing highly desirable vehicles as well as producing vehicles that are fit for whatever purpose you wish to put it. The Evoque Convertible has completed the same rigorous testing and development programme as every other Land Rover. It can wade through water up to 50 centimetres deep, and use our unique All-Terrain Progress Control system to tackle tough terrain with unrivalled composure.
The success of the original Evoque transformed our business with over 450,000 sold since launch. This is a vehicle that captures the hearts of customers all over the World. Whilst in California we wanted to do something along that iconic coastline of Los Angeles in Santa Monica. Above anything else customers will buy this vehicle on its distinctive looks. The launch in LA required it simply too look stunning – and it achieved this with gusto. I was joined by ‘Miss Moneypenny’ aka Naomie Harris, and having a fully-fledged Bond girl on board certainly added to the overall experience. But I’m sure even Naomie would agree, when it comes to showing off a brand-new convertible in the California sun, the car will always be the star.