It might seem as “Through The Looking Glass” weird as Veuve Clicquot releasing a range of caffeinated soft drinks, but Land Rover might be about to launch a ute – or a pick-up truck, as the Americans like to call them.
Speaking at the first Australian drive of the enticing new 2018 Land Rover Discovery, JLR’s Australian managing director Matthew Wiesner admitted he would dearly love to see a pick-up truck in the Land Rover range, because it would have enormous sales potential in Australia and, frankly, around the world, with Mercedes-Benz, for one, about to launch a high-end competitor for the Toyota HiLux.
“A pickup would be the number-one desired product for us,” Wiesner said. “I mean, there’s enormous demand and you have to remember that it’s a product that sits very much in our space.”
Such a vehicle, a radical departure for the classy, supremely English brand, Land Rover, would have enormous appeal both in Australia and in the home of the pick-up truck, the USA. And it could be based on the next Defender, depending on how its design shakes out.
Wiesner admits that, while there is huge demand for a new Defender in markets like Australia, he’s still far away from being able to announce any new news about its impending arrival on the global stage.
“I can only tell you that what (global design boss) Gerry McGovern said about Defender at the Discovery launch earlier this year remains our official position,” Wiesner said.
McGovern told CarAdvice in Utah earlier this year that he was sick of Australian journalists asking about Defender but that “it’s going to be nothing like those bloomin’ concept cars (above) we showed a few years go, because we took the Mick with those.”
“Our brand has been on a journey of transformation, and the Discovery is the latest step on that; it’s less polarising, more appealing.” he added.
“We haven’t always been known for great design in the past, because we came from a very functional base. The cars looked like they did so the could do what they had to, but that’s what I want us to be known for; design.
“You’ll see that on Defender, it is coming. We’ve pushed Discovery closer to Range Rover, which will allow the Defenders to come in under that.”
McGovern says the brand will be split into three pillars, with Range Rover standing for exclusivity, Discovery equalling versatility, while “Defenders are going to be all about their durability”.
The end goal is to have a bigger family of Land Rovers available, allowing the company to build volume and tap into the growth in SUV demand.
“The Defenders, when they come, there will be a whole family of them, and ff you look at where we currently are and where we could be in six or seven years time, it’s a massive shift,” McGovern said.
So, Defender is coming, and a ute version might well be part of its offering, but for now, it’s a case of wait and see.