RAC Cars News


Demand Soaring For Last Defenders

By raccars Published

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With the last Land Rover Defenders due to roll off the production line in December, demand for the trusty 4x4s is on the up, with buyers keen to grab one while they are still available. Land Rover has increased production at its Solihull site to cope with the extra demand. If demand continues at its current rate, Land Rover expects to sell out of Defenders by the end of the summer, despite increasing production from 100 to 122 models per day.

Recently, however, Land Rover has hinted that while UK production will end, the company is considering building some Defenders in one of its international plants, such as India, South America or China. The company has discontinued the Defender because it would not be cost effective to update production to keep in line with modern European emissions and safety regulations. However, the same rules do not apply abroad.

The company is releasing a set of special editions to mark the end of production but if supply runs out as early as expected, Land Rover has confirmed that it has the capacity to add an extra shift at the Solihull plant, if necessary. The staff quotient for the Defender is currently 500 employees and their hours have already been increased to fulfil the extra production load. Mechanically, the Defender has changed very little for decades, so where the production of a Range Rover involves 328 robots, building a Defender is a far more manual process, with fewer than 10 robots working on the Defender production line.

Land Rover has confirmed that it is working on a replacement for the iconic Defender - no easy task! Pictures of a DC100 concept have been released to show a possible design direction for the new model but it seems the firm is far from ready to sign off on a final production model. Land Rover is focusing on retaining the traditional elements that made the Defender so popular, with more modern components to broaden the 4x4's consumer base.

The Defender's original appeal was its utilitarian capability, which made it the essential vehicle in agricultural communities and with the military, rescue services and third world country residents. Land Rover faces no easy task in retaining this simplicity while also attracting new buyers more used to comfort and convenience features.

For existing Defender owners, the car's demise poses an interesting quandary, as demand is likely to surge in both new and used markets. Used models are expected to gain in value, possibly dramatically, so the temptation to sell could be strong.

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