2020 Land Rover Defender Is On Sale, but Getting One May Be Tricky
Months ago, I was supposed to board a plane to Old Blighty to drive the new Land Rover Defender.
Given the vehicle’s heritage and importance to the brand, I was excited to see if it was a worthy successor to the famous series of SUVs that came before. I was also excited to go to England for the first time. My Austin Powers impression would be so much cooler if performed in the Old Empire (narrator voice: It would not).
Before I could even finish the paperwork for an international excursion, my flight — and everyone else’s — was canceled. As you know, the pandemic killed off new-car launches for the foreseeable future, although JLR merely “postponed” this one.
My sadness about not seeing the English countryside for the first time pales in comparison to the sadness of the Defender buyer who plunks down a deposit only to have to wait for his ride. And keep waiting.
See, the pandemic has crippled production at the plant in Slovakia, just as it has screwed with production at so many other plants across the world. That’s a problem, since technically, you can buy a Defender right now if you’re so inclined. It’s officially on sale in these United States.
Sure, you can buy one, but will it be in your driveway? That depends on supply, which according to Automotive News is limited right now.
The AN story is paywalled, but Autoblog sums up the situation: The plant in Nitra, Slovakia (a sister city of my hometown, not that you care) was shuttered for eight weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s just now getting back on the grind.
The plant could produce up to 150,000 vehicles a year, but the Defender shares the lines with the Discovery. Not to mention that JLR is planning to sell the Defender in 100 markets – and every last unit will emerge from Nitra. There are 188 Land Rover dealers in America.
Apparently, “several hundred” Defenders have been shipped out to American stores, and each dealer expects at least one Defender for its showroom before this month ends. Autoblog did some inventory searching and found a tick over 100 Defenders for sale on sites like Autotrader and Cars.com. Intriguingly, most appeared to be listed at MSRP, with little indication of price hiking due to short supply.
If you want to drive the Defender before signing on any dotted lines, you may also have to wait. The lack of supply means Land Rover is moving units around from store to store to provide test drives, so it’s a matter of timing – will your local store have a demo on hand that you can take for a spin? We’d suggest calling and finding out.
As for us, we hope to drive the Defender somewhere before too long. Obviously, plans are pandemic-dependent. Once we get our mitts on one, whether it’s from the official junket (should it still happen), a dealer-provided test drive, or a loan at home, we’ll give you our thoughts.
If you have Defender dreams, be patient. A dream deferred is usually better than a dream denied, after all.
[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]
Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.
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