The Land Rover Defender may be in for a substantial “reboot”, from utilitarian niche vehicle into the brand’s volume seller, when an all-new version goes on sale in 2015.
According to an article in Autocar, one Land Rover exec is quoted as saying that the new car’s focus is to be “functional, durable and affordable”. The article also suggests that production will be in countries outside of Britain, and sub-Saharan Land Rover owners are a focus for the new vehicle’s development. Sounds like the polar opposite of the Evoque, and a return to Land Rover’s roots. No complaints here.
The current Defender is set to die in 2015 as changing environmental and safety regulations call for a total re-design of the car. The next-generation Defender will abandon the Barbour-jacket set in favor of global volume. Land Rover is looking at the Toyota Hilux, a basic, uncomplicated utility vehicle, as a model for the new Defender. The Hilux sold 549,000 units worldwide last year, and Land Rover is looking to cash in on the brand’s strong reputation both as a luxury product and as one of the few vehicles tough enough to handle extreme conditions.
In North America, the Defender took a path similar to the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen and the Hummer H1, as a tarted-up military vehicle sold at an exorbitant markup despite the vehicle’s spartan, low-tech underpinings. By virtue of its British heritage and expensive price point, the Defender has become a bit of a status symbol (see the Louis Vuitton ad above if you need further proof). In the rest of the world, the Defender still has some cachet as a rugged, all-terrain vehicle, but without any of the elitist snob connotations that it carries here amongst the insufferable Anglophile division of the car enthusiast world. Prices of used Defenders will inevitably stay high, as the snob set will remain unable the cope with not just the idea of an Indian-built, reliable Defender, but the idea that the commonfolk will be able to buy one.