RAC Cars News


New Defender Wins A Temporary Reprieve

By raccars Published

Hipsters may consider it antiquated but, to many, Land Rover's Defender is an icon and plans to supersede it with a more utilitarian, economical 4x4 met with some consternation among fans. However, rumour has it that this idea has been shelved temporarily.

JLR had a fairly comprehensive development programme mapped out involving the new, basic off-roader being manufactured in India concurrent with a Tata branded SUV, but plans for both the cars and the new plant are on hold. Unfortunately, this will not ultimately save the existing Land Rover Defender, which JLR has deemed obsolete from 2015 onwards, due to the insurmountable obstacles involved in complying with regulations.

A new Defender is still on the cards for 2015, this time in a plusher format to compete with premium brand rivals and using the new JLR aluminium PLA framework. Already churning out 95,000 units per annum, the Land Rover aluminium works has the capacity to produce 180,000 units every year and work has already begun to enlarge the plant further. This rate of production indicates a supply structure for the PLA platform of at least four different models.

Ultimately, the replacement for the Defender is likely to be a higher end vehicle in line with the upcoming flagship Discovery, with a more extensive model line up and a slightly smaller example of the new PLA architecture.

Having begun a Saudi Arabian commercial alliance involving low cost aluminium purchasing, JLR may be hoping that a combination of lower material costs and higher consumer pricing will allow it to manufacture in the UK, without increasing development costs. The original Defender replacement relied upon a joint venture with Indian firm, Tata, which is looking distinctly shaky after that company's recent sales disasters and a drop in new car sales on the sub-continent. Developmental disagreements about the product's place in the international market are alleged to be another factor in JLR's sudden reversal.

The Land Rover Defender model is celebrating its 65th year in 2013, but many see the rugged and versatile off-roader as just as relevant now as it has ever been. From agricultural and military workhorse, the Defender has extended its fanbase to yummy mummies and Shoreditch hipsters. Unfortunately, increasingly strict legislation is driving the Defender out of certain international markets, such as the USA. There is currently a thriving black market in imported Defenders stateside, where models less than 25 years old are illegal. Enterprising criminals are altering new Defenders to give them the appearance of classic models, to circumvent US customs regulations. However, the crusher awaits those vehicles getting caught out by on the ball customs officers...

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