Production of the original Land Rover Defender is scheduled to cease next year, but it will be replaced by a next-generation model which will incorporate more modern features as well as a new design theme.
According to Automotive News, the cause for the demise of the current Defender is its lack of safety and onboard features which are now standard on almost every SUV. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plans to reinvent the iconic SUV by making a new generation model that comes with the necessary upgrades.
Remaking the Defender for today's standards won't be easy however as stated by Joe Eberhardt, CEO of JLR North America.
“It is tough. Any replacement for an iconic vehicle is tough because the enthusiasts are certainly very vocal. They have an opinion on how to do it, but it's a huge opportunity at the same time,” said Eberhardt.
Expected to be revealed by 2018 (but will be sold as a 2019 model year), the all-new Defender will be a mid-range model, slotting below the Ranger Rover and above the recently revamped Discovery. As much as the company likes to preserve its off-road rugged look, Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's design director, said that they will have to change it for the modern era in order to cater to a larger group of buyers.
“A lot of people love the idea of [the previous Defender], but they never buy one. While I'm a designer, and I love designing, I'm also a businessman. We need to build a critical mass in order to sustain ourselves in the long term and reinvest,” said McGovern.
Design of the new Defender is still a mystery but McGovern did say that it will still look like a Defender, albeit appearing more modern and will not resemble the previously released concept models. In addition, it will be available in five body styles: two 2-door models, long wheelbase 4-door and two 2-door / 4-door pickup models.