Land Rover is planning to replace its iconic Defender SUV.

The Defender – launched in April 1948 at the Amsterdam motor show – is sold in more than 140 countries and was originally designed for farm and light industrial use.

Land Rover engineers are working to design a replacement for the Defender, Matthew Taylor, the company’s managing director, told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Montreux last week.

“The Defender is important. It is one of the few genuine auto icons. Our challenge now is to see how we can successfully take it forward and make it a 21st century icon,” said Taylor.

Land Rover was bought by Ford four years ago and sells 27,000 Defenders a year.

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It is likely that the next Defender will be built on the Land Rover T5 platform, the same platform used for the Discovery 3, which will go on sale later this year.

Land Rover is moving to simplify its platforms from four to two. The Discovery 3 is the first vehicle built on the company’s T5 platform.

The Range Rover Sport will be introduced in 2005 and will be the second T5 based vehicle. The Freelander, built on a monocoque, will be next.

Land Rover has had only seven new products in its 54 year history.