Land Rover will be saying good-bye to the current Defender at the end of January due to stricter crash and emission regulations. But they are the first to admit that reinventing an icon such as the Defender won't be easy.
"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 Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America.
While iconic, the Defender only appealed to a small, hardcore audience. Land Rover needs the next Defender to be a success, even if that means the next model loses some of its hardcore edge,
"A lot of people love the idea of [the previous De-fender], 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 Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's design director.
The next Defender - expected to arrive in 2018 as a 2019 model year vehicle - will come in five different body styles: two two-door models, long-wheelbase four-door, and pickup variants with two and four doors. The design of the new Defender will not look like the concepts we have seen in past years.
"When this vehicle comes out, people will know it's a Defender, it's a modern Defender," said McGovern. "But it will bear no resemblance to those Defender concepts."
No word on powertrains, but expect a range of gas and diesel engines.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)