Iconic Land Rover Defender may make a comeback by 2019

Probably won't be built in Blighty, sadly

Lix Toll Land Rover photo Mark Whitehorn Paul Hazell
If you have to ask, you won't understand. Pic: Mark Whitehorn for The Register

Jaguar Land Rover is to resurrect the venerable old Defender – and it may be built abroad, according to media reports.

The Defender design was discontinued in 2016 thanks to EU regulations on vehicle emissions. Unlike Volkswagen, JLR decided to halt production rather than engage in software trickery to defeat emissions testing.

Though the Defender, and its earlier brothers the Series I, II and III, has acquired a certain reputation among British drivers, its iconic status cannot be denied, cutting an oil-stained path through the history of off-road 4x4.

Although long since superseded by superior Japanese wagons in its core market of "general purpose off-road-capable 4x4", the Defender retained its special place in the heart of the British driving public.

Its main corporate user, the British Armed Forces, still has a large number of Defenders on charge but they are gradually being sold out of service as other vehicles take the place of the "Truck, Utility Light" (the short wheelbase Defender 90) and the "Truck, Utility, Medium" (the long wheelbase Defender 110).

The Financial Times reported that Indian-owned JLR is pondering putting a new Defender on the market by 2019 after noticing a "big increase in sales of rivals" since the Defender line closed in January last year.

"In 1948, the vehicle was just driving over the farm field," chief exec Ralf Speth told the Pink 'Un. "But this cannot be the case anymore. At the end of the day you cannot design a vehicle like the original one. We have to make sure we fulfil all the regulatory requirements."

Mail Online offshoot This Is Money reported that while JLR would design the new Defender in the UK, it would be built offshore as the company's UK factories are already running near capacity on Jaguar production and cannot be expanded.

Landy fan and Reg contributor Mark Whitehorn took the farewell Defender Celebration Tour at JLR's Solihull plant back in 2015. ®

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