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2019 March
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Car and Driver: Land Rover Defender Replacement Delayed to 2018 or 2019

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Defender of the Faith: Driving Every Generation of Land Rover Defender

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The death of the Land Rover Defender last month triggered a period of something close to national mourning in the UK as the country grieved the loss of what was, alongside the double-decker London bus or fume-spouting black cab being driven by a bald cockney keen to discuss soccer scores, the nation’s greatest automotive icon. However it also turned thoughts to the Defender’s long-awaited replacement, one that we’ve previously been assured will be sold in markets including the U.S. And now alarming reports on the British Autocar website suggest that we won’t be seeing it before 2018 or 2019.

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It’s certainly been a tricky gestation. Land Rover first showed a future Defender concept, the DC100, as far back as 2011. It didn’t receive the warmest of receptions, but back then journalists were told that the plan was, in traditional car-launch fashion, to introduce the new model as the old one retired.

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That definitely won’t be happening; poor critical response to the DC100 concept has reportedly led to an almost total redesign, and although it’s believed that the design of the new model has been almost finalized. Autocar says that debate is still ongoing about where the vehicle will be produced and how many versions will be made. It’s possible it will be made in JLR’s new factory in Slovakia, or even at another non-British site such as the Magna Styr plant in Austria.

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The old Defender was kept alive for years by orders from the British military, something the new car won’t be able to fall back on. Hence the problem of signing off a model that is likely to be produced in relatively small numbers compared to other Land Rover products, but which also will be expected to follow on from the original Defender in being relatively affordable. With Land Rover struggling to find production capacity for models it produces in far higher numbers, and sells for far higher margins, the new Defender will be struggling to get a hearing.

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We reached out to Land Rover for comment on the story, but a spokesman told us the company had nothing to add about the new Defender at the present time other than reiterating that the company remains committed to making it. Let’s hope we see it before we’ve forgotten what the old one looked like.

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