Land Rover Goes Futuristic With Latest Car Launch

The British automotive brand unveiled its Discovery Vision Concept S.U.V. ahead of the 2014 New York International Auto Show with an event that put the vehicle in the same venue as two spacecrafts.

By Jim Shi April 22, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT

Photo: Nick Dimbleby

Land Rover "New Age of Discovery" Launch
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In what has become something of a New York Auto Show tradition for the brand, Land Rover unveiled its latest vehicle with a buzzy event in Manhattan. The carmaker’s April 14 gathering on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for the reveal of the Discovery Vision Concept S.U.V. also served as an announcement for a global partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic commercial spaceflight company.

The affair, produced by London-based Imagination (Land Rover’s longtime event production firm), featured a life-size replica of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft. Times Square was scouted as a potential location, but the aircraft-carrier-turned-museum “had such intrinsic links with all the stories we were trying to tell,” said Ross Wheeler, head of the automotive team at Imagination.

That meant that following cocktails, guests were split into three groups—as designated by the wristbands received when they checked in—with one group of reporters actually lifted up onto the top deck via a plane hanger. “We decided it would be a exciting moment for some journalists to rise up to the flight deck like this and give a different viewpoint. It was also cool for others to experience the lift coming up,” Wheeler said.

On the flight deck, guests found a tented platform, which hid the new car. As a dramatic way to introduce the vehicle and communicate the brand’s emphasis on design and technology, Wheeler’s team used the complicated surface of the ship’s bridge as a flat screen for projections. “The projection mapping and lighting was designed to create the feeling of technical advancement,” Wheeler said.

Projections, which simultaneously lit the bridge and dome, started with the earth’s rise, then moved into an interplay of lines of communication, scanning information and terrains. The concept was to shift the focus between the two surfaces—the digital earth on the bridge feeding information to the dome where the car was being formed beneath. Finally, the focus shifted one last time to the dome area where the car was finally revealed.

As to be expected, set up was the foremost challenge. “We could only work through the nights as the museum stays open during the day,” said Wheeler, whose team spent six days on the install. Although, unlike last year, there was no driving involved this time—and, thus, no “motion”—every single element of the production had to be craned on and off the ship. Weather, fortunately pleasant that evening, was also a factor.

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