The all-new Land Rover Defender is set to play a major part in Land Rover’s expansion over the next few years. And like the revamped Discovery family, it will spawn a range of bodystyles to satisfy a wide range of buyers.
Former brand director John Edwards – now in charge of the bespoke Engineered to Order Division at Land Rover – spoke to us about his plans for replacing the icon. And now that the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Evoque have completed the ‘luxury’ pillar of the business, he told us: “Our focus is on chapter two and three, which is the leisure pillar and the dual-purpose pillar.”
In plain English, the ‘dual-purpose’ pillar refers to the Defender, with the brand keen to move the new model
– previewed by the DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts back in 2011 – away from the traditional utilitarian image.
Edwards added: “The current Defender is probably too rooted in off-road – it needs to be more civilised in the future. That’s why it’s dual purpose.”
But he was quick to reassure buyers that “we are not abandoning off-road capability; we are talking about
a breadth of abilities instead”.
Production of the current Defender will end in December 2015, but we were told there will be a gap before the new version arrives in mid-2016. Edwards promised a variety of body types, too, telling us: “If you look at the range at the moment, there are 17 types. We won’t do that many next time round, but we want to satisfy as many customers as we can.”
However, when we asked about the possibility of a baby SUV to sit below the Evoque or the baby Discover, he said: "In the next five to seven years, we have no plans to go below the Evoque and Freelander. It’s not because I’m concerned about the brand; I think the brand is elastic enough to live beneath those cars."
Finally, Edwards promised that Land Rover would launch a new or heavily revised model every year. “We are ambitious to grow,” he said. “For me, momentum is important. Put it this way, we’ll be keeping you busy.”