L.A. Auto Show: Range Rover brings Bond girl to exclusive reveal
Claudia Deutsch looked out over the main lawn of her sprawling Beverly Hills mansion.
To her left was Berenice Marlohe, the actress who played Bond girl Severine in “Skyfall.” To her right, Goran Visnjic of “E.R.” chatted with a couple of well-dressed gentlemen snacking on hor d’oeuvres prepared by chef Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat.
And directly in front of her -- in gleaming Valloire white paint -- sat the evening’s $200,000 raison d’etre, the 2014 Range Rover Autobiography Black.
“It’s a fun thing,” Deutsch said of Monday evening’s event, as guests milled about the Range Rover and the two companion models parked on either side of it. “It’s the first time in the world anyone’s seen the car. And hey, it’s in my backyard.”
PHOTOS: Exclusive reveal of Range Rover Autobiography Black
While the rest of the automotive universe would have to wait until Wednesday when the latest Range Rover model debuted at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show, Deutsch and her husband, Benjamin, played host to a unique marketing strategy by Land Rover.
The brand invited about 75 of its most loyal customers in the Greater Los Angeles area to get a sneak peek at the long-wheelbase Autobiography Black.
The goal isn’t necessarily to sell this well-heeled clientele a new Range Rover -- though they were certainly welcome to whip out their checkbooks if they liked what they saw. Rather, the goal was to thank a group of buyers who on average, had bought three Land Rovers over the years.
“I call them super loyalists,” Kim McCullough, brand vice president for Land Rover North America, said. “And tonight’s about giving them something they can’t get other ways.”
L.A. is the brand’s second-largest market in the U.S., behind the New York tri-state area. With such a concentrated group of loyal owners in one region, high-end brands such as Land Rover must think beyond traditional marketing practices.
The automaker had success with similar events exclusively for owners when the base Range Rover model was introduced last year, McCullough said. Similar events for the Autobiography Black edition are planned in crucial markets such as New York, Miami and Texas before it goes on sale in March.
The model represents the pinnacle of what Range Rover has to offer. Only 100 Autobiography Black editions will be sold in the U.S. The model is based on the long-wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography, another new model for the Range Rover lineup.
Each long-wheelbase model adds another 7.3-inches of legroom to the rear seats of the standard Range Rover, enabling even the tallest passenger to recline in the power seat and cross their legs.
The Black edition also boasts exclusive 21-inch wheels and an interior dripping with high-grade leather, wood veneer and LED mood lighting.
Black editions also add to the interior goodies such as a heated and cooled massaging rear seat with power leg rest, dual 10-inch entertainment screens with wireless headsets, and a rear center console with power retractable tables, USB outlets and wine cooler.
The Black models start at $185,000, nearly $79,000 more than your neighbor’s run-of-the-mill long-wheelbase Range Rover. To really drive home the exclusivity message, the first 25 models in the U.S. will be painted in the same Valloire white paint as the one on Deutsch’s main lawn. Each will cost $199,500.
Yet Range Rover has no concerns about finding buyers for the Black edition. The automaker is also confident that events such as Monday’s private debut will encourage owners to spread the word about the exclusive events their loyalty gains access to.
This makes it easy to justify the cost of hosting such an event.
“If this group of people accounts for 300 sales that we’ve already done, then you’ve already paid it out,” McCullough said. “Now it’s time to say, ‘Hey, thank you. We love that you’re loyal to our brand, and here is a world debut before anyone else has seen this vehicle. Just for you.’ ”
And a Bond girl.