The new-generation Land Rover Defender needs to “wash its face” to appeal to the mass market, according to the British brand.
Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern told UK newspaper the Shropshire Star that making the new-generation version – which is widely expected to debut in 2o15 – has to appeal to more buyers than just the hardcore off-roaders and agricultural archetypes that have underpinned the success of the car since its inception in 1948.
Land Rover currently builds about 20,000 Defender off-roaders every year, and the current model is set to wind up production in 2015. McGovern said this production figure needed to increase five-fold for the next-generation model.
“The current Defender has never sold on its design and has changed very little over the years. What we are working on is something that will be more desirable to look at,” McGovern said. “The important thing is to get the proportions right, give it a distinctive silhouette and wider appeal. A Defender doesn’t have to look overtly functional. We are taking a more sophisticated approach.
“The traditionalists might not like it but they’ll have to live with it. It will still be as capable as before and there will be references to the old model – it might even have a spare wheel on the back,” he said. “What we really need to do is make the Defender more relevant to the modern world, lighter, more aerodynamic and more cost effective.”
The brand has kept quiet on the future of the Defender since showing off the original DC100 concept in 2011, but in September 2013 Land Rover programs director Murray Dietsch said the brand was passionate about a more contemporary successor to the Defender that isn’t currently sold in all of the markets in which Land Rover is present.
“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,” Dietsch said.