Defender: End of an era
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LONDON -- Land Rover confirmed media reports that it will end production of its iconic Defender SUV.
"The Defender will go out of production by the middle of the decade due to legislative reasons," a Land Rover spokesman told Automotive News Europe. The spokesman declined to comment on the legislative reasons. Land Rover is developing a replacement vehicle for the Defender but the company did not disclose the name or any details of the new product.
Land Rover also would not say when the replacement will go on sale.
Analysts Bernstein Research believe a Defender replacement will not go on sale until 2019 at the earliest. "The Defender replacement remains far from ready due to a lack of volume and weak business case," Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a recent report on Jaguar Land Rover.
Land Rover showed the DC100 concept at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show to preview a new Defender, but that steel-based vehicle has been cancelled, according to Warburton.
He said the brand is now looking at the possibility of a more expensive aluminum vehicle to sit on the current Range Rover platform.
The Defender was the first model built by Land Rover in 1948. Its rugged looks made it an iconic vehicle and almost 2 million examples have been sold. The Defender helps Land Rover's reputation as an SUV brand but its sales are small. In the first eight months, just 561 Defenders were sold in Europe, according to JATO Dynamics.
IHS analyst Ian Fletcher said the cost of updating the model to meet the latest regulations was likely to be too high. "Ultimately it comes down to the business case of the cost of adapting the Defender once again to legislation versus the sales it is expected to make. Global sales are on the wane anyway," he said.