The Land Rover name was originally used by the Rover Company for the Land Rover Series, launched in 1948. It developed into a brand encompassing a range of four-wheel-drive models, including the Defender, Discovery, Freelander, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Evoque. Land Rovers are currently assembled in the company's Halewood and Solihull plants, with research and development taking place at the Gaydon and Whitley engineering centres. Land Rover sold 194,000 vehicles worldwide in 2009.
In September 2013 Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to open a 100 million GBP (160 million USD) research and development centre in the University of Warwick, Coventry to create a next generation of vehicle technologies. The carmaker said around 1,000 academics and engineers would work there and that construction would start in 2014.
The design for the original Land Rover vehicle was started in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, chief designer at the Rover Company, on his farm in Newborough, Anglesey, working in conjunction with his brother Spencer who was the Managing Director of Rover. The design may have been influenced by the Jeep and the prototype, later nicknamed Centre Steer, was built on a Jeep chassis and axles. The early choice of colour was dictated by military surplus supplies of aircraft cockpit paint, so early vehicles only came in various shades of light green; all models until recently feature sturdy box section ladder-frame chassis. Early vehicles like the Series I were field-tested at Long Bennington and designed to be field-serviced.
Land Rover as a company has existed since 1978. Prior to this, it was a product line of the Rover Company which was subsequently absorbed into the Rover-Triumph division of the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BL) following Leyland Motor Corporation’s takeover of Rover in 1967. The ongoing commercial success of the original Land Rover series models, and latterly the Range Rover in the 1970s in the midst of BL's well-documented business troubles prompted the establishment of a separate Land Rover company but still under the BL umbrella, remaining part of the subsequent Rover Group in 1988, under the ownership of British Aerospace after the remains of British Leyland were broken up and privatised. In 1994 Rover Group plc was acquired by BMW. In 2000, Rover Group was broken up by BMW and Land Rover was sold to Ford Motor Company, becoming part of its Premier Automotive Group. In 2006 Ford purchased the Rover brand from BMW for around £6 million.