The all-new replacement for the Land Rover Defender is scheduled for launch in 2013, only the fifth time in 60 years that the iconic model has been renewed by the company.
Land Rover is currently in the exploratory stages for the new Defender with design, engineering and marketing teams looking at the early engineering and business case for the new car.
The significant date, six years away, is critical because of future emissions standards, rather than crash legislation. Land Rover is confident it can get the revised 2007 Defender, a revamp of a car whose lineage goes back to 1983, through the next phase of pedestrian-impact legislation in 2010.
What is known about the new Defender is that it will retain rugged go-anywhere durability and the styling will be an evolution of today’s look, influenced by design director Gerry McGovern’s new ‘premium adventure’ styling theme.
It is already clear that the business case must revolve around a hefty rise in annual sales, from today’s 25,000 to closer to 50,000 units.
That rise will come from extra sales in new markets like Russia, China and Asia, but more significantly North America, where airbag legislation killed the current model in the late 1990s.
It is also clear that the new Defender will be built on a dedicated platform. Land Rover could share componentry with the ‘integrated bodyframe’ structure from the Discovery, but sources confirm it’s too costly to underpin a utility model.
A key issue is whether a future Defender needs to be offered with today’s range of around 170 different variants such as tipper trucks and fire engines.