Often times concept vehicles portray an already-decided future direction. Other times, concepts are built to suggest one possibility in an ongoing debate about a model’s future. Land Rover has taken the latter approach with its new DC100 concept, telling Autocar that the Frankfurt-bound concept
builds upon essential elements of the Defender’s character and allows us to open the debate and inspire people to dream about Defenders of the future. The DC100 isn’t a production-ready concept, but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.
Will the new Defender get an all-new version of its rugged, body-on-frame chassis, or will it move to a re-engineered version of the T5 platform that underpins the Discovery and Range Rover Sport? That’s all still to be decided as Landie navigates a sales and regulatory environment that makes life extremely difficult for old-school SUVs. And because the Defender has lost much of its developing-world market to more reliable Toyota 4x4s, I’d guess the next Defender will be a less-traditional interpretation of the original. While that’s all being hashed out ahead of the 2015 launch date, at least we have an attractive concept to go along with a compelling debate.
How do you replace a classic? That’s the question puzzling Tata-owned Land Rover, as it begins considering replacement strategies for its iconic Defender SUV. According to Autocar, a concept is coming to the Frankfurt Auto Show this fall which will point the direction for a new Defender, but all the details remain up in the air. One option is to redesign the whole thing from the ground up with a bespoke platform, for maximum off-road ability. The other option:
using a cost and complication-reduced Discovery chassis
According to Autocar’s reporting, a production version is expected in the 2015 timeframe, with 60k-80k annual unit volume targeted. The key issues are the ability to offer multiple body types and to be repairable even in remote locations, and dealing with the first issue will require a decision on whether or not to build a pickup version. Brand director John Edwards says
that Land Rover is keenly watching the progress of the Argentina-built VW Amarok pick-up – some inside JLR argue that VW may struggle to make money because the pick-up market is so competitive. He believes that whatever solution Land Rover finally picks, ‘it won’t please everyone’, because with so many fans and opinions it will be difficult to avoid disappointing some. The challenge is to please most of them and more importantly, attract new buyers to a vehicle of which only 18,000 were made last year.