Off-Roading

Land Rover utilizing Red Cross all-terrain experts for Defender testing

Land Rover enlisted the help of the Red Cross to test the 2020 Land Rover Defender.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The Defender is coming back. Long a poorly kept secret, Land Rover gave enthusiasts a peek at the vehicle's development before the Land Rover Defender makes its way onto dealer lots.

The setting is Dubai and the drivers are members of the elite all-terrain experts from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Surrounded by sand dunes and the twisty tarmac of Jebel Jais highway, Dubai is a playground for off-road enthusiasts who also want to check out their vehicle's on-road prowess.

That's exactly what the IFRC drivers did.

2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover worked with IFRC drivers as a part of Defender development.

IFRC fleet drivers piloted the 4x4s over soft sand dunes, climbing steep ascents, pitching down side slopes, and conquering blind crests. This is similar testing to what was conducted by Rolls-Royce during development of their SUV, the Cullinan.

As temperatures climbed over 100 degrees, the drivers took to the 12 miles of hairpin turns of the Jebel Jais highway climbing to over 6,500-feet of elevation up to the top of Jebel Yibir mountain, the tallest point in the United Arab Emirates.

The new Defender has already undergone over 745,000 miles of testing as part of its development.

Land Rover debuted the 2020 Land Rover Defender at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this year.

Land Rover and Mitsubishi have the best websites according to a new semiannual study by J.D. Power.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Before buyers set foot in a dealership, nearly all of them explore their options online. A new study from J.D. Power has determined that Land Rover and Mitsubishi have the best website experiences of all mass-market automakers.

The U.S. Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study is a semiannual examination of the usefulness of manufacturer websites during the process of shopping for a new vehicle. J.D. Power studied four key usability features of the sites as part of the evaluation: information/content, appearance, navigation, and speed.

Mitsubishi Motors homepage Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

"This year's study was redesigned to underscore several recent trends seen in automotive vehicle manufacturer websites," said Jon Sundberg, senior manager of digital solutions, J.D. Power. "We've taken note of the digital advancements OEM websites are implementing to evolve the automotive shopping experience. Items like personalization, customization and digital retailing are being implemented or are on the digital road map for many OEM sites, and we wanted to ensure the customer has a voice in these areas. We've even added self-guided videos and transcripts of shoppers using OEM websites to give further context to the shopping experience."

To conduct the study, 10,031 new vehicle shoppers were surveyed. To be considered a new vehicle shopper, respondents had to indicate that they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The survey was fielded in November 2019.

Out of 1,000 possible points, luxury automaker websites received an average of 834 points. The mass market brands averaged 826. Land Rover was the highest ranked with 864 points. Mitsubishi was the highest-ranked mass market brand achieving a score of 848.

J.D. Power first started surveying automaker websites in 1999.

The two modems will allow users to simultaneously use the navigaton system while updating their system over the air.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2020 Land Rover Defender will include the world's first dual-modem, dual eSIM design, which will allow owners to simultaneously download system updates over the air while streaming music or using apps. Most vehicle systems currently disable streaming functionality while the Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) updates are happening, often disabling functionality for an extended period of time.

Land Rover's new Pivi Pro infotainment system shares electronic hardware with the latest smartphones. Using its two embedded LTE modems, the Defender can update 16 modules remotely using cloud-based technology from CloudCar in the background without effecting day-to-day connectivity for the user.

Pivi Pro infotainment system Land Rover Defender 2020 Over 45 modules will be SOTA capable in the new Defender by the end of 2021.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

"With one LTE modem and eSIM dedicated to the Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) technology and the same set-up looking after music streaming and apps, New Defender has the digital capacity to keep customers connected, updated and entertained at all times anywhere in the world," said Peter Virk, Director of Connected Car and Future Technology, Jaguar Land Rover. "You could liken the design to a brain, with each half enjoying its own connection for unrivalled and uninterrupted service. Like the brain, one side of the system looks after logical functions, like SOTA, while the other takes care of more creative tasks."

The SUV's infotainment system is equipped with its own battery allowing it to be "always on" and able to respond immediately upon vehicle startup. This functionality allows the navigation system to be ready to accept a new destination immediately upon the driver entering the vehicle. Because of the dual-modem set-up, even the navigation system can be accessed during updates.

The Defender's 10-inch high-resolution infotainment touchscreen can also connect to two mobile devices at once via Bluetooth.

Land Rover initially announced that the Defender would have 14 modules that were SOTA capable. This new announcement of 16 is another step toward the more than 45 the company projects will be available by the end of 2021, eliminating the need for customers to visit their dealership to receive any software updates.