Sad news for all Land Rover fans is that Jaguar Land Rover has officially announced that the Defender – one of the world’s longest-serving vehicles – is to cease production on 20 December 2015 after an unequalled run of 67 years.
Reports in the past of its death have been exaggerated, Jaguar Land Rover told Telegraph UK, but this time it is for real.
Sale figures of the Defender recorded a consistent 18 000 units per year. Last week, Jaguar Land Rover’s UK market sales announced registrations for September and the year to date. In the case of the Defender, these soared by 30 per cent year-on-year to 1 068 and 4 475 unit respectively.
But the end of the Defender is not through lack of demand nor have Land Rover engineers grown tired of adapting it to meet 21st century safety and emission legislation. In a world where hybrid cars in whatever shape of size seem to be the future of motoring, the Defender just no longer fits.
However, the Defender has a knack for going on forever. It’s said that 75 per cent of the two million units built so far are still on the road. So chances are Defenders will still be around in 2070.
New model on the horizon
In an interview with www.just-auto.com, Jaguar Land Rover’s global brand director John Edwards underlined the fact that the Defender is “known and loved the world over” and compared it to the original Mini, as a way of hinting at what could possibly in store for the new Defender in the future.
The next Defender will be “instantly recognised” by anyone who knows the current vehicle and the “core values of dependability and functionality” will be retained. When asked if it might move upmarket, as some sources claim, Edwards noted that “the Defender is a product that isn’t too precious,” and that one of the things current owners love is “the ability to hose down the interior”. Yet, he also stated that the replacement may be “similar to a premium powertool – it won’t necessarily be cheap”.
Will there be a production gap? Edwards says there will be, but puts a positive spin on this fact by adding that, “journalists never stop asking about this vehicle, which just shows how loved the current model is”. Land Rover must cease building it in late 2015 due to the coming of EU6 regulations – there is no point in adapting the current vehicle for that and future safety legislation as annual production is under 20 000 units and the vehicle is nearing the end of its lifecycle.
As for the USA, a region where the Defender’s lack of airbags has prevented it from being sold for many years, Edwards says yes, the new model will be returning there. He just won’t say when, exactly.