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The new Range Rover is surely one of the most technically advanced cars of all time. Most of its engineering was developed on powerful computers: intelligent technology for the ultimate go-anywhere luxury car.


But one of its cleverest new features was initially created by a small team of engineers, beginning with hinges and MDF purchased from the local DIY store. The Range Rover’s Versatile Loadspace Floor is a masterpiece of logic and convenience and includes the innovative Tailgate Event Suite – the perfect vantage point for outdoor relaxation. Yet an early prototype looked more like a school project, than – as today – an ingenious feature on a versatile luxury car.


It was developed by Senior Programme Leader Emily Booker and her small team, including graduates. The upshot is a unique feature that helps keep items stowed in the Range Rover’s (vast) boot within easy reach, offers astonishing flexibility and is also perfect for storing wet and muddy gear (when adventure beckons).


Land Rover technology has always played a part in Emily’s life: “My granddad was a farmer. As kids we spent a lot of time on his farm, where he had an old Defender. I always thought it was most tremendous fun. Our family cars were always Discoverys. My parents had three children and we needed the space.”

Emily’s background is product design. She studied at Loughborough University. “I went to some Woman in Engineering events and thought a graduate scheme would be a good place to start. I met someone who was on the JLR graduate scheme. It never occurred to me that what I studied would help me work on developing cars.”


She joined JLR 10 years ago. “Most engineering graduates were male. There were certainly times when I was the only female in the room. I took that as a responsibility to speak – so that a female voice was being heard.”


Emily quickly became a team leader, and graduates started working for her. “As a female in engineering, I attracted female graduates. Over the last seven years, I’ve always had two-to-four graduates working for me and the male-female split has been close to 50-50. There has been a significant shift in the number of women in engineering, and in leadership positions.”


The female perspective was crucial in developing the Versatile Loadspace Floor. Smaller people found it hard to reach deep into the Range Rover’s boot. “My team was looking for new customer features for the new Range Rover. We started brainstorming and focused on the loadspace. We locked ourselves in a room for two full days, to distance ourselves from the day-to-day job. So often, this is where you get the best ideas.”

Emily and her team looked at how people used the Range Rover, and the problems. “The original idea was a partition close to the back of the loadspace, to help you access items in the boot more easily. Then we thought – why not also flip the other way to make a tailgate backrest? At one stage we even thought we could turn it into a dog ramp. It was all about reducing customer pain points and enhancing the customer experience. 


“Most people don’t fill the loadspace. They have a work bag, a sports bag, a shopping bag or maybe an overnight bag. A flexible partition means they are held in place as well as being easier to access. For those who lead adventurous lives, the partition also allows you to separate muddy boots and wet sports gear from the rest of the luggage. It also has a wipe clean surface – better than putting them on carpet.’


When stowed, it is hidden and flush with the floor. Very slim when folded (just 14mm), it takes no space from the boot and is still compatible with a full-size spare wheel. As a partition it is locked firmly in place. Adjustable straps and friction sliders can hold anything from a wine bottle to large shopping bags. A switch folds the partition. 


Pull a different tag and the same partition board, on a dual mechanism, flips forward in the opposite direction– creating a backboard on the rear of the tailgate. When locked in position, it provides the backrest for the Tailgate Event Suite – utilising the Range Rover’s unusual split tailgate. Stowed luxury cushions give extra support and comfort.


“The prototype we created was really crude, initially using foamboard. The next prototype used MDF and hinges picked up from the DIY store. It was crude but gave us a physical model, which is important.” 


Simple woodwork and metal hinges were transformed into soft-touch finishes and a sophisticated folding mechanism. And another chapter was added to Range Rover’s historic and celebrated capability.



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