Range Rover SUV crosses bridge made of pure paper in Suzhou, China [w/video]

Article by Andrew Christian, on November 24, 2015

Have you ever driven a luxury vehicle over a bridge made, not of concrete or steel, but of paper? Someone sure has, and very recently. In celebration of 45 years of the Range Rover family as well as to highlight the same number of years of Range Rover innovation, Land Rover's flagship Range Rover luxury SUV – piloted by Land Rover Experience Chief Instructor Chris Zhou -- crossed a bridge made of paper in Suzhou, China.

The event was held ahead of the Guangzhou Motor Show in the country. It surprised everyone to know that this Land Rover-commissioned bridge – made from high quality paper from specialist British manufacturer James Cropper PLC -- features no glue or bolts to hold it in place.

It took around three days to construct and complete the hand-built paper bridge in Suzhou, an ancient water city known for its bridges and is even dubbed as ‘Venice of the East’. After the event was completed, the Range Rover became the first premium SUV to cross such bridge, just as it became the world’s first luxury SUV when it was launched in 1970.

In 1972, the Range Rover became the first vehicle to cross the Darien Gap in Central America and in 1989, it became the first 4x4 to feature ABS anti-lock brakes. In 1992, it became the first to feature both Electronic Traction Control and electronic air suspension to the sector.

The paper bridge crossing was also held to highlight the Land Rover's latest slew of all-terrain technologies, which were instrumental in achieving the delicate feature. Range Rover comes available with an array of features – like Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control (APTC) -- that allows it handle any terrain type.

For instance, the Terrain Response 2 features an auto mode that optimizes a number of Range Rover's settings to improve all-terrain capability, sans input from the driver.

On the other hand, when the Ranger Rover is negotiating a difficult or slippery terrain, APTC maintains a set speed from 1 mph to 19 mph sans any pedal inputs, thus allowing drivers to focus on steering. APTC can be activated while the Range Rover is on a stop or on the move and can even be operated in reverse gear.

This technology -- the first in the auto industry -- allows the vehicle to pull away on tricky surfaces like slipper wet grass and deep sand by ensuring minimal wheel spin. What also helped the Range Rover achieve the paper bridge crossing feat was its lightweight body made from aluminum.

In fact, when the latest fourth-generation model debuted in 2012, it was the first all-aluminum SUV. Remarkably, it featured weights savings of up to 420kg. According to Steve Messam, artist and paper bridge designer, while it is true that paper structures that could support people were built before, this was the first time that a paper bridge would be made for an SUV to cross.

He remarked that the paper bridge in Suzhou is pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover. He described the ease and composure with which the Range Rover crossed the bridge as "genuinely breathtaking.”

Meanwhile, Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, remarked that they picked China as the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of Range Rover since they consider the country an important market for the luxury SUV.

Press Release

RANGE ROVER MARKS 45 YEARS OF ENGINEERING INNOVATION WITH JAW DROPPING DRIVE ACROSS PAPER BRIDGE

  • Land Rover celebrates 45 years of Range Rover with creative collaboration
  • Luxury SUV completes world-first drive across one-off paper bridge
  • Partnership with world-renowned British artist Steve Messam and specialist British paper manufacturer James Cropper PLC to build unique installation
  • Intelligent 4WD all-terrain technology and lightweight aluminium construction of flagship model makes unique drive possible
  • One-off art project kicks off Range Rover 45th Anniversary celebrations at Guangzhou Motor Show

Guangzhou, China, 19 November 2015 – Land Rover has driven its flagship Range Rover luxury SUV across a bridge made of paper. The freestanding structure in Suzhou, China, spanned five metres without glue or bolts to hold it in place.

Land Rover commissioned the unique bridge to mark the 45th anniversary of its Range Rover family and to highlight 45 years of Range Rover innovation ahead of the Guangzhou Motor Show in China.

The hand-built paper bridge took three days to construct in the ancient water city of Suzhou, which is famous for its bridges and nicknamed ‘Venice of the East’. The unique crossing was made of high quality paper supplied by specialist British manufacturer James Cropper PLC.

The jaw dropping drive is the latest in a long line of industry firsts for Land Rover’s flagship SUV. Range Rover was the world’s first ever luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970 and was the first vehicle to drive across the Darien Gap in Central America two years later. In 1989 it was first 4x4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes and introduced both Electronic Traction Control and electronic air suspension to the sector in 1992.

The latest fourth-generation model was the first all-aluminium SUV when it debuted in 2012. Its innovative lightweight aluminium body provides a total vehicle saving of up to 420kg compared to using traditional steel.

Land Rover Experience Chief Instructor Chris Zhou was entrusted with negotiating the paper bridge, using a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure. Range Rover is available with a series of innovative features that combine to provide unrivalled all-terrain capability including Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.

Terrain Response 2 features an auto mode which, when selected, optimises a range of vehicle settings to enhance all-terrain capability without any input from the driver.

All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) allows drivers to concentrate purely on steering the vehicle when negotiating difficult or slippery terrain by maintaining a set speed ranging from 1mph to 19mph without any pedal inputs. The intelligent technology enhances all-terrain capability and can be activated on the move or from a standstill, to help when pulling away on tricky surfaces, and even works in reverse gear.

The industry-first technology can assist drivers when pulling away on slippery wet grass – a demanding surface for even experienced off-road drivers – by ensuring minimal wheelspin, and even help to drive the vehicle out of deep sand.

Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “China is an 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, said: “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.”

Range Rover is the ultimate luxury SUV and combines sophisticated exterior design with class-leading all-terrain capability and exquisite interior refinement.

A Brief History of Range Rover world firsts:

1970 The original two-door Range Rover - known as the Classic - goes on sale

1972 The Range Rover is the first vehicle to drive the full length of the Americas from Alaska to Cape Horn including the near-impassable Darien Gap

1979 A specially modified Range Rover wins the first Paris-Dakar rally (a Range Rover wins again in 1981)

1981 First production four-door Range Rover appears along with the first factory produced limited-edition Range Rover - the 'In Vogue'

1985 The diesel-powered Range Rover 'Bullet' breaks 27 speed records, including a diesel record for averaging more than 100mph for 24 hours

1989 Range Rover is the world's first 4x4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes

1992 Range Rover Classic is the world's first 4x4 to be fitted with Electronic Traction Control

1992 Automatic electronic air suspension introduced, a world first for a 4x4

1994 Second-generation (P38a) Range Rover launched

2001 Third-generation (L322) Range Rover launched

2002 Half-millionth Range Rover produced at the Solihull plant

2010 Range Rover celebrates its 40th anniversary,

2012 Fourth-generation (L405) Range Rover launched - the world's first all-aluminium SUV

2015 6,000,000th Land Rover produced is a Range Rover LWB SE Vogue destined for China

Bridge Construction

Construction of the bridge began with the assembly of a pair of specially designed wooden abutments. Paper was then stacked on these supports using a temporary framework to hold them in place. Once complete, this was removed leaving a freestanding 3.4-metre high paper arch spanning five metres.

The sustainably sourced paper will be repurposed by Land Rover with the remainder recycled locally for reuse in China.

Steve Messam

Steve Messam is an environmental artist based in the North of England. With his site-specific installations, he sets visual accents in rural or urban settings, which include historical relics and vacant architecture that make us perceive the familiar environment in a new way. He is also interested in space: the interaction of art and audience within confined and open spaces, the role of aesthetics and the physical experience.

As an artist Steve Messam has worked primarily outside the gallery environment for the past 18 years. His works include ‘Beached’ (2007), in which he filled a beach with thousands of sandcastles and paper flags;‘PaperBridge’ (2015) - a functioning packhorse bridge made from 22,000 sheets of paper in the Lake District; ‘Clad’ (2009) - a traditional timber-framed cottage wrapped in the fleece of 300 local sheep in Newtown, Wales and ‘Carpet’ (2013) - an installation of 25,000 jars of coloured ink in Lindisfarne Priory. He created the first off-site installation at the 2006 Shanghai Biennial and created a number of site-specific installations across the Venetian Lagoon during the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Steve regularly works with private businesses and the non-arts sector exploiting the parallel values of art and landscape and working towards a more sustainable model for individual rural arts practice.

James Cropper PLC

Based in the Lake District, England’s first and foremost National Park, with a paper-making heritage that started in 1845. Since its inception the business has been carefully stewarded and nurtured by six generations of the Cropper family.

Today the business is renowned globally for its luxury packaging papers, which accompany many of the world’s most exclusive brands, while the world’s leading artists, galleries and museums use its framing and archival boards alongside its range of conventional artists materials. As well as paper products, James Cropper also manufactures nonwovens from carbon, glass and polymer fibres, which play a key part in production of composites in the automotive, energy and aerospace sectors.

Celebrating 170 years of experience in the art of paper manufacture in 2015, James Cropper PLC, works with environmentally sustainable suppliers to produce a selection of high quality stock and made-to-order papers.

To find out more about the innovative production methods, product range, responsible manufacturing principles and history of James Cropper, please visit: www.jamescropper.com

Jaguar Land Rover Graduate Programme

The one-off paper bridge is not Land Rover’s only involvement with paper structures, after kicking off a series of paper-based construction challenges aimed at budding engineers last month.

The Jaguar Land Rover initiative tasks students to build the longest paper bridge possible using one newspaper. Participants are asked to share photographs of their efforts on the Instagram social media network using the tag: @JLR_Graduates. Jaguar Land Rover is accepting applications for its 2016 Graduate and Undergraduate Programmes until 31 December 2015.

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