Land Rover's plans to replace the ageing Defender with a more rugged vehicle have been scrapped

Land Rover’s plans to replace the ancient Defender with a new range of super-rugged, relatively basic off-roaders have been scrapped, according to sources close to the company.

Outline plans to build the new model in India, probably alongside a related Tata SUV, have also been dropped. A further consequence of the surprise move is that the planned JLR engine factory in India has also been put on ice.

Although a replacement Defender is currently in the works, John Edwards, Land Rover’s global brand director, has been quoted as saying 



the new Defender will not go into production in 2015 as originally envisaged. The current Defender will still be retired in 2015, however, partly because of the impossibility of meeting future legislation.

It is thought that the latest plans for the new Defender, 
which is certainly three years away, are to create a more premium-level product and build it on a version of JLR’s new, all-aluminium PLA architecture.

Land Rover’s aluminium body shop can currently handle 95,000 vehicles per year on three shifts, but there is already existing room for expansion to 180,000 units. Even so, Land Rover has started work on a further extension of the body shop, suggesting it expects to roll out more than four models based on the PLA platform.

The upshot is that it’s highly likely that a new ‘premium’ Defender will be a sister car to the next-generation flagship model of the expanded Discovery range (see p10), with both models based on a new, marginally smaller version of the PLA architecture.

Sources say Land Rover is confident of being able to buy aluminium at a highly competitive price from its new joint venture in Saudi Arabia. This, and premium pricing, means building the car in the UK would be cost-competitive.

Autocar understands that the decision to shake up plans to replace the Defender has been prompted, at least in part, by the fact that the health of the automotive division of parent company Tata is in question. After suffering a sales humiliation with the super-budget Nano, the company has also seen its new Aria SUV massively undershoot sales expectations. 

New car sales in India have gone into freefall in the past six months. Without Tata Motors making significant sales progress, any planned co-operation with Jaguar Land Rover on a back-to-basics Defender is 
not financially viable. 

Autocar also understands that the product development boss hired to oversee the new Defender argued strongly against using a separate chassis construction and trying to compete globally, particularly with Toyota, in the market for commercial SUVs.

Our Verdict

The Land Rover Defender is an institution and unbeatable off road, if crude on it

Join the debate

Comments
54

R32

20 May 2013

Hmm, yet another "premium" Land Rover product.  I would have thought that premium may not be best for any Defender replacement as not all Land Rover owners want it.  I'm sure there are Defender owners who prefer basic and purposeful - which is why they drive Defenders in the first place.

But hey, "premium" means Land Rover can charge more right?

20 May 2013

R32 wrote:

Hmm, yet another "premium" Land Rover product.  I would have thought that premium may not be best for any Defender replacement as not all Land Rover owners want it.  I'm sure there are Defender owners who prefer basic and purposeful - which is why they drive Defenders in the first place.

But hey, "premium" means Land Rover can charge more right?

I agree.

Aren't Ranger Rover, Evoque, Discovery and (increasingly) Freelander already supposed to be "premium"? How many more premium models does the company think it needs? If the Defender will no longer cover the rugged end of the market, then which Land Rover model will?

20 May 2013

A real opportunity missed.

 

Who will step up to the plate and fill the void left by the Defender's demise?

Where has all Japanese design went to?

20 May 2013

Should they ever decide to venture here again...

20 May 2013

Farmers buy land rovers because they tow 3.5 tonnes.  If Toyota work this out farmers won't buy Land Rovers as these are commercial not emotional purchases.  Seems Land Rover are betting the farm on the 4x4 consumer trend, if this stalls they will have no core market.

 

 

20 May 2013

PhilM4000 wrote:

Farmers buy land rovers because they tow 3.5 tonnes.  If Toyota work this out farmers won't buy Land Rovers as these are commercial not emotional purchases.  Seems Land Rover are betting the farm on the 4x4 consumer trend, if this stalls they will have no core market.

 

 

You can already get defender pickups 

I really think that the new defender should be the best of road and thats all it needs to be if you want premium by another j/lr product not the defender

BJN

A34

20 May 2013

... as even the current Defender is not in any way "cheap rugged transport for farmers etc". No, it's a premium relic (like the Caterham 7) - does a good job locally but not a significant global player in terms of units sold. Probably a cut-down new Discovery will fulfill the role exactly... Like a Merc G-Wagon!

20 May 2013

And with this piece of news i think Land Rover can say bye bye to the african & Australian outback markets really.

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

20 May 2013

iamnotbritishandthereforeunbiased wrote:

And with this piece of news i think Land Rover can say bye bye to the african & Australian outback markets really.

 

there aren't any land rovers in the outback. We drive good cars - Toyotas.

jer

20 May 2013

Yep its the UKs way of saying we cannot compete with the rest of the world. I agree doing premium for LR makes sense but I'd like to see LR also offer value/volume to cement a precense in the market. The first LR Discovery was a good example I remember that was offered at fair value.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    22 December 2014
    Entry-level diesel MPV shares its three-cylinder engine with Mini but, due to long gearing, lacks the authoritative punch of a convincing premium product
  • Car review
    17 December 2014
    The replacement for the CL grand tourer has some big boots to fill
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 AMG Line Shooting Brake review
    First Drive
    16 December 2014
    Elegant, alluring and with some welcome improvements, but not good enough to lead the class
  • First Drive
    15 December 2014
    Hushed, flexible and remarkable value for money. Arguably more fit-for-purpose than any other ‘S’.
  • 2015 Mazda CX-3 review
    First Drive
    12 December 2014
    The Mazda CX-3 has style and substance, and deserves consideration for anyone wanting a compact urban SUV. Here’s hoping Mazda gets the price and equipment right