in Automotive News Europe, by Nick Gibbs, 30-04-2019
No date was given for the start of Defender production, but JLR has previously said the SUV will be unveiled later this year. That means Defender output is likely to start next year.
Land Rover also revealed a teaser picture of the long-wheelbase version of the Defender, confirming that it sticks with the same squared-off shape as the original off-roader. Land Rover stopped production of that version of the Defender in early 2016 after a 67-year run.
Land Rover has acknowledged that replacing an icon such as the Defender has been difficult. “We were aware that the continuation of the Defender would not be an easy launch. Every vehicle launch is difficult. But a successor to an icon faces an exceptionally high bar,” JLR CEO Ralf Speth told Automotive News Europe German sister publication Automobilwoche. He predicted “strong demand” for the model.
The decision to build the iconic model outside of JLR’s UK home market will disappoint fans who were hoping production could stay in the same Solihull, central England, plant that built the original car.
JLR has enough global capacity to build 901,000 vehicles a year, according to its figures, while sales in 2018 fell 4 percent to 518,730.
JLR is currently enacting an austerity plan that seeks to save 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 million) after posting a 3.7 billion pound loss for the first three quarters of its 2018-19 financial year.