It’s no secret a lot of people were upset when the 68-year long run of the Land Rover Defender (and the Series I, II and III before it) ended in 2016.
Since then, not a lot has happened with regards to the beloved badge, other than the release of an extremely limited-edition Defender Works V8 for the 4×4’s 70th anniversary in January of 2018.
The UK brand has been somewhat quiet about the Defender’s replacement since the poor reception to the Defender DC100 concepts of 2011.
Although, chatter has started up again relatively recently, as some short-wheelbase Land Rover prototypes were spotted testing in cold-weather conditions earlier this year. They wore similar light fittings and bodies to the Range Rover Sport, although they had a much shorter wheelbase.
UK publication Autocar claims the new truck will still be divided into two model grades – the 90 and 110 – and will split the Land Rover family into three distinct sub-brands: Range Rover, Discovery and Defender. (representing refinement, versatility, and durability respectively)
The publication also states the next-generation Defender will forgo a ladder-chassis, instead switching to a monocoque to maintain parts commonality with other Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
While the off-roader may be a monocoque design and has appeared in test form wearing Range Rover bits, small pieces of information slipping out from the tight-lipped brand suggest it will aim for a more rugged look than its Discovery and Range Rover siblings.
A silhouette shown several times by JLR suggests it will have a boxy visage more like the Jeep Wrangler, complete with a spare on the back.
Industry publication Automotive News has also suggested moving Discovery production to the company’s new Slovakian factory frees up the original Solihull plant for Defender production – The 4×4’s ancestral home.
This would line up with Jeep Wrangler production continuing in Toledo, Ohio, and Ford’s decision to produce its upcoming Bronco 4×4 in Detroit.
The same article goes on to point out that the Solihull facility specialises in aluminium body construction, perfect for a new Defender.
Autocar however, disagrees, raising the possibility that the Defender could be built in the same Austrian Magna Steyr factory that currently produces the Jaguar E-Pace.
As for launch timing for the new Defender, images published by Autoevolution and India’s carandbike, claimed to be slides from a JLR product pipeline presentation, indicate a 2020-2021 launch window for the 4×4.
Materials from the roadmap also show the brand intends to launch a new flexible architecture across all model ranges, discontinuing the three different platforms or variations that underpin its current range. It also points to the eventual electrification of most JLR models by 2025.
An all-electric concept of the original Defender was shown in 2013.
JLR Australia was unable to confirm any of the above, stating simply that it is not the company’s policy to talk about future products until they are officially announced.
As to what’s next for the brand’s operation locally, CarsGuide was told this year is mainly about Jaguar and the launch of the I-Pace.