What we think to a Defender return

Will the Land Rover Defender make a come back thanks to a Mancunian business man?

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

August 9, 2016

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year
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If you've read any of our previous stuff, you know we are Land Rover enthusiasts to the core. We're pretty sure our blood is Pantone 377C (Land Rover's official branding green). So what do we think of the news that there's a slight, but remote, chance that the Defender might return, thanks to a rich northern billionaire?

Quite frankly, we're not impressed

1. It's a nice idea

jimmy

The idea behind restarting the production is great. And we admire Jim Ratcliffe (above), a 63 professional billionaire (and evidently an eccentric) for his ambition. Who wouldn't want to see the Defender come back, all new and shiny - perhaps with improvements like 'tolerances',  'water proofing' and 'corrosion protection'. To this day, I'm still quite miffed that I missed out on visiting the Defender production line and the nearest I got was sitting on my couch with a cardboard virtual reality headset and this website. Maybe I could actually see the iconic vehicle assembled.

It won't be the same

Unfortunately, the 2 seconds of jubilation upon seeing the headline "How Land Rover's iconic Defender could make an unexpected comeback" quickly turned to....

jeremy

As we read more and more of the article. It seems that Jim is a big fan of Land Rovers...kind of. Its turns out he wants his Defenders to be more refined and more like "[Land] Cruisers". It also won't be called a Defender with Land Rover retaining the rights to the prestigious moniker and repurposing it for their all new replacement model expected in 2018.

It'll be more expensive... much more

pricey90

Ineos (Ratcliffe's company) are conducting feasibility studies into producing between 10,000-20,000 per annum (roughly the number Land Rover bolted together per annum). The results are expected in December of this year. They have set traditional Defender customers in their sights: agricultural, military and recreational users.

Even Land Rover themselves found the Defender pricey. It was costly to produce and profit was minimal. In the last year of production, when sales were going through the roof, it was still a flagship product - intended to draw customers to the brand but only really covering production expense. To get around these high costs and make the Defender viable, the retail price would have to go shoot up on a vehicle that isn't really worth the swollen asking price in the first place. This new vehicle will most likely be tailored to the market we've seen develop over the last 5 years, that of heavily modified, sporty Defenders. And consequently, far out of reach of most enthusiasts & Landy loyalists. Ineos are also looking at the Africa market as well as the USA. Residents of the latter will often pay triple (or more) the UK price of a used Defender due to restrictions on imports and a short production run of the US model.

It won't happen

We're not being overly pessimistic. Land Rover themselves have said so:

Jaguar Land Rover can confirm that this news is entirely speculative. Defender will always be Land Rover's icon. Jaguar Land Rover has stated its intention to continue the Defender lineage with an all-new model. We can confirm there are no plans to restart production of the previous generation Defender. The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, and the development of the next generation model remains on track.

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2 Comments

  1. Mike Hallett says:

    I first heard about this proposed venture several weeks ago and, whilst I admire the guy’s sentiments, I have serious doubts about his vehicle manufacturing acumen. If JLR do not sanction it, I suspect, sadly, he is on a hiding to nothing and, like Pinzgauer, the Defender (as is) has had its day.

    • Ben Gribbin Ben Gribbin says:

      We can’t see it happening. I’ve read somewhere that a plant was to be built in Asia to build knock down kits, Land Rover aren’t going to just give the rights to everyone. Agree with you on the car manufacturing been completely different to chemicals. Time will tell.

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