The Irishman creates the most English of cars

The Irishman creates the most English of cars

Daniel Craig has had one. David Beckham has one. Most famous of all, when she visited Ireland, Queen Elizabeth was driven around in one (and has owned and driven several of her own). The Range Rover has long been a stable symbol of low-key aristocracy and celebrity. There are other, much flashier luxury quad bikes that fall victim to the dreaded bling of over-decoration and flashy. The Range Rover has almost never done so, as it is closer to an English country house – impressive and grand, but not flashy. Very old money.

So it may come as a bit of a surprise to discover that the man responsible for taking the new Range Rover, the sixth generation of the car, to market comes from Dundalk. Rory O’Murchu has been working with Jaguar Land Rover for 18 years now and has been head of Range Rover’s vehicle line since 2019.

“It basically means that I cover all aspects of running what is actually a business unit within Jaguar Land Rover, which focuses on designing and building Range Rover and Range Rover Sport,” says O’Murchu. “Most of my work is spent on the development of the vehicle itself, but I also have to cover the design side, the commercial side, the financial side.”

It is very easy, he says, to be sucked back into focusing on the nuts and bolts of the car and miss the broader view of the commercial aspects of actually selling it. “Yes it’s true. I’m a product guy by experience, an engineer, and many of us with that kind of background have moved on to positions as vehicle director. But of course you have to keep an eye on the business case too, to make sure everything Of course, that’s a very important point. “

After school in Dundalk, O’Murchu went north of the border for his higher education and took an MSc in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from Queens University of Belfast. He has since worked in several different departments at Jaguar Land Rover, but getting the job of recreating the Range Rover for the 2000s was a big task.

“The thing is, when you try to replace a car like the Range Rover, you just do not want to ruin it,” says O’Murchu. “Because DNA in Range Rover is so special, it’s basically about trying to take the same ingredients but coming up with a better recipe in the end.”

New Range Rover

For a car that can now, in top-specific form, reach almost € 300,000, O’Murchu insists that it still has the relative humility of the original 1970s, even though it was more comfortable than the Land Rover, it was based on the fact that it still had durable vinyl seats and a boot specially shaped and dimensioned to be able to carry a hay bale. The first Range Rover was designed to work hard on the farm during the week, but then is refurbished and driven into town on the weekends.

“I think the good thing about the Range Rover, and what sets it apart from some of our competitors, is that it still has that humility from our roots as a brand,” says O’Murchu.

“It is not adorned with chrome and all that hard work. So even though it’s a very luxurious car now, it still has that down-to-earth feel. This is reflected in our customers, many of whom are very self-made people who themselves have come from humble roots. ”

One thing that the current Range Rover lacks is a fully electric version. An all-electric Range Rover will go on sale in 2024, but given the current call for electric cars, is O’Murchu worried that Land Rover may have missed the boat when it comes to getting an early foothold in the electric car door?

“I do not think so,” he says. “The first thing to note is that the car’s architecture has been designed for fully electric power, and it can actually be equipped with all types of power sources, from petrol or diesel to battery electric.

“I think the key is to make sure the battery technology was in the right place, so that when we launch an electric Range Rover, the technology is ready to give us the incredible range of a charge. So I think we’re on the right track. way, and I think our new plug-in hybrid offering in the meantime is very credible.

“You know, it has a range of 113 km on a full charge of the battery, and when I look at what some of our competitors are doing with their charging hybrids and electrical offerings, I just do not think they have the style of Range Rover. So I think “We did the right thing, we could have rushed it out, but it might not have been the best thing if we had done it. And the best thing is what the Range Rover must be.”

New Range Rover

O’Murchu comes home regularly, and his parents come to visit him quite regularly as well so that the Dundalk contact has not been lost. “I guess on average either I would be home or they would be over every three or six months,” he says.

“Mom and Dad love to come over to meet the grandchildren, so that connection to home is still very strong. The only problem is that my wife prefers to fly home, and as a car guy I prefer to drive back – it’s always a pleasure to drive up through Wales. “

Does it feel strange to be at home spying on an expensive, luxury car that he has helped create that rolls around on the Dundalk streets where he grew up?

“Yes, you get a strong sense of reward from it. Seeing a Range Rover drive around with the Irish plates, that’s nice,” O’Murchu said.

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