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No news on the next-generation Land Rover Defender is not necessarily bad news according to the company’s key directors, who insist the program to replace the iconic off-roader is still on track.

The British SUV maker has been largely silent about its Defender successor since unveiling the polarising DC100 concept at the last Frankfurt motor show in 2011.

The current Defender – a vehicle that can trace its roots back to 1948 – will cease production in a little over two years’ time due to tightening safety and emissions regulations in Europe.

Land-Rover-DC100-1

Land Rover director of programs Murray Dietsch insists the brand is unwavering in its commitment to continuing the Defender legacy with an all-new model.

“At a very senior level in the company there is an overwhelming desire to have Defender continue in some form in the future,” Diestch says, “and it’s not just a view that’s shared by one person, there’s an enormous number of people in the company that want to see Defender continue.

“Could you have a Land Rover company without having Defender in it? The answer is no.”

Land-Rover-DC100-2

While expected to launch early in the second half of the decade, Dietsch admits the new Defender may not be ready in time to directly replace its predecessor, potentially leaving a hole in the company’s line-up.

“We’ve not made the connection to when its successor will be available and when the current car ceases production … and it would be premature for us to do that,” he said.

“You’ve got to keep in mind that Defender, while … we sell cars in 177 countries around the world, we don’t sell Defender in 177 countries … so having it directly linked is possibly ideal but not imperative.”

Dietsch says while the current Defender is unable to be sold in some markets – notably North America – the new model will meet global standards and won’t face any constraints.

“Any new product we would not want to limit ourselves from the 177 markets that we sell into, so we would develop anything new without any restrictions on it,” he said.

Land-Rover-Defender-1

Land Rover says Defender sales have continued to tick along at approximately 20,000 units per year for the past five years, and Dietsch says even at that level it remains profitable for the company, admitting it would be “silly” to build the car at a loss.

While acknowledging that Land Rover stands to make considerably more money from vehicles like the Range Rover Evoque – which topped 100,000 global sales last year, more than any Land Rover in one calendar year in history – Dietsch says sales numbers are only a small part of the Defender story.

“It’s probably more about the brand reputation and what we do with Defender than actually market penetration,” he said.

“There’s not talk of let’s cut our losses or anything like that. Defender is quintessentially Land Rover. We think it’s a product that Land Rover can’t do without.”

The exact form the new model will take remains largely unknown, though Land Rover global brand director John Edwards poured cold water on the suggestion Defender would branch out to become its own sub-brand like the luxury Range Rover division, instead remaining a Land Rover brand model.


  • MisterZed

    Is the Defender being discontinued in Australia? Laws coming into effect in November will ban any SUV without ESC from being sold. The Defender does not have ESC, which means that the SUV variant will not be allowed to be sold (although the ute variant could continue?). The Suzuki Jimny will also be axed, while the Landcruiser 75 series wagon could also go, leaving just the ute.

    • Johnny

      Defender is sold as ute and crew cab, with the 90, 110 and 130inch chassis. Could just mean the 5 door wagon won’t be available?

    • Phil

      The rules will affect all light commercials. Plenty of others without ESC as well. It’d seem a bit pointless on a Defender, as ESC is meant to stop you running off the road. Off road is where it starts making sense.

      • MisterZed

        No, the rules are only for passenger cars and SUVs. Light commercials (i.e. utes) will still be able to be sold without ESC. Otherwise you’d have to take half the utes off the market!

        • Phil

          Are you aware that the govt proposal to mandate ESC and brake assist on all light commercials was closed for public comment on 26 June? The November date applies to the 2009 law, which applies to MA, MB and MC but any NA commercial without them is on borrowed time. The govt is seeking to extend the ruling on MA, MB and MC class vehicles to NA class, which would effectively bring us into line with other countries such as Canada. As an amendment to the current ADR 35/03, it should not take long to enact. It affects only imported vehicles, so bring it on.

          For work vehicles, it is HSE requirements that is making businesses demand 5 star ANCAP vehicles. Fixing the ADR’s will remove the disparity.

          IIRC, the Defender is presently classed as NA2 light goods vehicle. Pretty sure others such as the Landcruiser 75 are as well.

  • Jacob

    God i love old stuff.

    They should just have a “non-compliance tax” on cars that dont meet Greenpeace regulations, instead of banning them.

    Dont politicians love taxes?

  • DAVID.ZYK

    LROC FIELD DAY:
    LANDY BURGER
    RANGIE BURGER
    BOTH GOOD!

  • LowRezFez

    The new one will have faux rivets.