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Millionth Landy's slow road to China

2012-03-01 08:49

EXPLORERS ALL: Explorers Ray Mears, Monty Halls, Ben Saunders, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Bear Grylls with the one-millionth Land Rover Discovery that will head for Beijing.

BIRMINGHAM, England - The birth might have been normal but there’s some tough schooling ahead for the one-millionth Land Rover Discovery to pop out of the Jaguar Land Rover nursery in central England.

The off-roader will be the focal point of an expedition across the Euro-Asian land mass whose target is to raise £1-million (about R12-million) for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The money will be used to support a much-needed water sanitation project in Uganda that will benefit 45 000 people.


A team of four Land Rover Experience experts will fuel up the Landy and head off from the factory on a 13 000km odyssey to Beijing, China with the target of crossing 13 countries in 50 days.

Which isn’t very fast – but the message the Landy will carry needs to be impressed. And after all, China is one of Land Rover’s fastest-growing markets with sales up 16% year-on-year and 83% of the brands product exported.

The Brum-to-Beijing ‘Journey of Discovery’ was launched with help from a number of renowned experienced explorers, each of whom has used at least one Discovery in their adventures - among them Bear Grylls, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Ray Mears, Monty Halls and polar explorer Ben Saunders.

NOW - AND THEN: The millionth Land Rover Discovery (left) and one of the original Series 1 units that (almost) made the same journey in 1955.

The millionth Discovery will be joined by two more (well, you never know!) and the convoy intends to reach Beijing in time for the opening of that city’s auto show on April 23.

Production of Discovery No. 1 000 000 came 23 years after Land Rover introduced it. “Since it first came to market as a third model to sit between the upmarket Range Rover and the rugged Defender,” the Landy people say, “it has carved its own market and become an international success story.”

The on/off-roader has collected more than 200 awards around the world and in 2011 saw record sales of almost 45 000 units in 170 countries.

“It also stands as an excellent example of UK design, engineering and manufacturing,” its maker says. “It is one of the world's most practical vehicles; it can seat seven, has a load volume of up to 2500 litres and is packed with technology including Land Rover's award-winning terrain response system which adapts the vehicle to respond to various terrains and driving conditions including snow and sand.”

Strictly speaking, it doesn’t “respond” – the driver selects the suspension and traction choices with a rotary switch on the centre console. But whatever...

The long drive will closely follow that of ‘The First Overland Expedition' of 1955 in which a team in Series 1 Land Rovers set out from Birmingham to Beijing though it had to divert to Singapore.

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