Will an Outsider Build a New Defender? Over Our Dead Body, Says Land Rover

will an outsider build a new defender over our dead body says land rover

Jaguar Land Rover isn’t about to have some upstart company build a new version of its iconic Defender.

The automaker shot back at rumors of a third-party resurrection of the boxy, beloved SUV, Autocar reports, stating that the previous-generation model will remain dead and buried as the company crafts a new model.

The Defender ceased production earlier this year, ending a production run that began in 1983. During that time, the SUV became a rugged favorite, findings fans ranging from African adventurers to Queen Elizabeth II.

Rumors and media reports stated that Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical company Ineos, planned to restart production of the first-generation Defender in an undisclosed English locale. There had even been talks between him and Jaguar Land Rover executives, the stories claimed.

“There is no way this is happening,” a JLR spokesperson told Autocar. “We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.”

In an official statement, the automaker said: “We can confirm there are no plans to restart production of the previous generation Defender … The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, and the development of the next-generation model remains on track.”

The next-generation Defender is expected to ditch the previous model’s body-on-frame architecture and adopt an aluminum unibody. The new model, several variants of which are expected to be sold in the U.S., should appear before the end of the decade.

Despite JLR’s statement, Ratcliffe seems to want to have the last word on the issue. Today, the tycoon said his company is working on a feasibility plan for returning the old Defender to production, albeit with upgraded safety equipment and emissions controls.

“I am a great admirer of the Land Rover Defender and I think it can be upgraded to be the world’s best and most rugged off-roader,” Ratcliffe told Autocar. “We want to breathe new life into it and make it even better than before.”

The “new” old model would be built in northern England near a port facility with a £250 million investment, he said, adding that there could be copyright issues to deal with. Ratcliffe’s comments suggest he would build an export market knock-off using engines from another manufacturer, a plan that JLR would likely fight tooth-and-nail.

The British automaker recently filed a lawsuit against a Chinese manufacturer that sells a knock-off of its Evoque SUV.

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  • Johnster Johnster on Jul 18, 2016

    Having an outsider take over and continue an existing model worked so well for the Lotus Super Seven when Caterham took it over, or for the Avanti. OTOH, it didn't turn out so well for Saab.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jul 19, 2016

    It's almost a shame they are discontinuing these without a successor (for now), even if it's successor is radically different to the classic one. They don't have an old-school 4WD left after the Defender gets discontinued.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.