Land Rover is currently researching the market for a replacement of its most practical and long-lived model, the Defender, with a view to replacing it when the existing three-wheelbase model set falls foul of legislation in 2013.
Managing director Phil Popham says there is "huge passion" inside the company to produce a Defender successor, but believes the key to its viability is discovering exactly who its buyers would be.
Annual Defender sales have run at 20,000 to 24,000 units fror years, but to justify the development costs, a new model would have to generate sales of around 40,000 units.
One possibility would be to use the current Discovery’s T5 chassis/suspension, likely to be discarded for the next-generation Discovery and Range Rover Sport for weight-saving reasons. The chassis already comes in two wheelbase lengths.
But research would have to prove that a T5-equipped Defender would be economic to produce and have the current model’s excellent load-carrying abilities.
"We don’t have the solution today," says Popham, “but we fully intend to have one. I believe there is potentially a huge market there."