EXCLUSIVE: Land Rover executive Edwards on next Defender [4 Oct update: sales figures added]
The original Land Rover, and John Edwards. The next Defender should be launched some time after mid-2016
Following recent remarks by another senior manager at Land Rover, the firm's former brand head has told just-auto.com more details of the thinking behind the next Defender.
John Edwards, who has just been announced as the head of Jaguar Land Rover's new Individual Products division, recently spoke to j-a about what he terms an "iconic" product, the Defender.
Edwards underlined the fact that the vehicle is "known and loved the world over", and compared it to the original Mini, as a way of hinting at what could be possible for the future.
The next Defender will be "instantly recognised" by anyone who knows the current vehicle and the "core values of dependability and functionality" will be retained. When asked if it might move upmarket, as some sources claim, Edwards noted that "the Defender is a product that isn't too precious", and that one of the things current owners love is "the ability to hose down the interior". Yet, he also stated that the replacement may be "similar to a premium powertool - it won't necessarily be cheap".
Will there be a production gap? Edwards says there will be, but puts a positive spin on this fact by adding that, "journalists never stop asking about this vehicle, which just shows how loved the current model is". Land Rover must cease building it in late 2015 due to the coming of EU6 regulations - there is no point in adapting the current vehicle for that and future safety legislation as annual production is under 20,000 units and the vehicle is nearing the end of its lifecycle.
As for North America, a region where the Defender's lack of airbags has prevented it from being sold for many years, Edwards says yes, the new model will be returning there. He just won't say when, exactly.
On 4 October, JLR's UK market sales organisation announced registrations for September and the year to date. In the case of the Defender, these soared by 30 percent YoY to 1,068 and 4,475 units respectively.
The codenames for the future Defender and its variants, plus other information for this vehicle programme are contained in PLDB, just-auto's global database for current and future vehicles. Simply click on the link below to buy a subscription, or to try PLDB for free. The database is updated with fresh information, daily.
Author: Glenn Brooks