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Leaving its muddy roots behind, Land Rover mulls Tesla-rivalling electric SUV

After a couple of years of Model S success, it looks like everyone is getting ready to take a shot at Tesla Motors.

First came rumors of an all-electric version of the Porsche “Pajun” sedan, and now it seems Land Rover will put Tesla in its sights with an electric SUV.

According to Autocar, Land Rover is considering a battery-powered vehicle with a Range Rover badge. This would likely be a (slightly) smaller crossover, though, not an electric version of the full-size Range Rover.

The company sees electric-car demand as split between small city cars and a “second or third car for a wealthy family.”

Not surprisingly, Land Rover is interested in that second group, saying its hypothetical plug-in SUV would be the size of a Jaguar XJ and would be aimed at the U.S. and China.

Related: 2015 Range Rover Sport SVR is the fastest Land Rover ever

This model could be one version of a road-biased crossover Land Rover is considering. It would also be offered with gasoline and diesel powertrains, and would trade some off-road prowess for sleeker styling and better road manners.

That might invite criticism that Land Rover is selling out, but such a design would likely be necessary for an electric vehicle.

To match the efficiency of the upcoming Tesla Model X, the Land Rover will need to be relatively aerodynamic, a quality not typically associated with any of Land Rover’s current models.

Tesla may not be Land Rover’s only electric competition, either.

Audi is reportedly planning an all-electric version of its Q8 mega-SUV, which is expected to launch in 2017. An electric Land Rover could also be cross-shopped with a plug-in hybrid version of the next Q7 Audi has in the works.

Of course, that’s assuming Land Rover really can find customers willing to buy a massive SUV with an electric powertrain, which would seem to appeal to people at opposite ends of the car-buying spectrum.