Luxury automotive brand Range Rover celebrated 45 years of engineering by completing the world’s first drive across a one off paper-bridge.
The unique collaboration in China with world-renowned British artist Steve Messam and specialist British paper manufacturer James Cropper PLC saw the development of the one-off free standing structure, spanning over five meters without flue or bolts to hold it in place.
The hand built bridge took a total of three days to construct in the ancient city of Suzhou, a city famous for its bridges and nicknamed “Venice of the East”.
The drive is the latest in a longline of industry firsts for Land Rover’s SUVs. Range Rover was the world’s first luxury SUV when it made its debut in 1970, and later became the first vehicle to drive across the Darien Gap in Central America two years later. It was also the first 4×4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes in 1989 and introduced Electronic Traction Control and electronic air suspension to the sector in 1992.
The negotiating of the paper bridge was entrusted to Land Rover’s Experience Chief Instructor Chris Zhou, who used a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure. Range Rover is available with a range of features that combine to provide unparalleled all-terrain capability, including Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.
Terrain Response 2 includes an auto mode which allows a range of vehicle settings to enhance all-terrain capability without any input from the driver, while the All-Terrain Progress Control allows drivers to concentrate on steering the vehicle when negotiating difficult terrain by maintaining a set speed from 1 – 19mph without any pedal input. This industry first technology can help assist drivers when pulling away from difficult or slipper wet surfaces – such as grass – by ensuring minimal wheelspin.
Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering Jaguar Land Rover said: “China is a hugely important market for Range Rover, so we have picked the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of our luxury SUV family. Range Rover’s advanced lightweight body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial factors in making this unique drive possible.”
Artist and paper bridge designer, Steve Messam, added: “Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted. It’s pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover, and the ease and composure with which the vehicle negotiated the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”