Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Land Rover Defender replacement - a bit of a joke?

I think that the Land Rover Defender ‘replacement’ is a bit of a joke. Surely the word ‘replacement’ means just that; that the new machine can do what the old one could do? Or does it have some other meaning?

Most of the time when we see a concept vehicle, we get excited about the prospect that the manufacturer may one day actually build it. But in this case, I dread this one. Any friend of the Land Rover has got to be concerned that the icon of their brand is about to become yet another SUV.

All the well-meaning styling in the world isn’t going to change the fact that you need a truck to do a truck’s job. Can you see a DC100 carrying an expedition’s load through Malawi? Or help the Third Para Regiment plot a minefield?
Let’s make it easier… How about a bail of hay to the farmer next door?
Or, even easier… How about sitting in city traffic with a driver who feels almost as if he/she’s on safari – something that very few vehicles have ever managed to do successfully – something at which the Defender is a master?


  1. I think when a car company says 'replacement', they mean in the market and not out in the field.

    They are trying to get interest from a younger crowd - perhaps Land Rover see all the old users as 'over the hill'...

  2. So you're saying I'm over the hill??!!..
    Good point.... I must be.

  3. The vehicle that put Land Rover on the map, made it one of the most recognized shapes on the road, is to be "replaced" by something not up to the task? What a shame! I foresee a lot of the agricultural world, the military and the recreational side turn to Toyota as the only serious option if this happens.

  4. I had thought that Land Rover has abandoned the Defender principle of a body on frame utility vehicle that puts function above form. However, now I'm not so sure.

    JLR have indicated that the new model will in fact be body on frame (probably using a modified Disco chassis) and.. built in India to keep costs down. The concept vehicles (especially the 'Sport' model) were very clearly designed to gauge reaction. Many traditionalists complained, but perhaps many more new potential customers were interested. The Defender sells in very small numbers now and so they have to think carefully about the volume they are targeting.

    The mainly Japanese pick up trucks are so capable, reliable and cheap that competing with them directly may be a fool's errand. Outside of the US, the JK Wrangler sells in rather small numbers despite the massive improvement over earlier models, perhaps indicating limited demand for traditional off-road biased family 4x4s.

    JLR has made huge sums of money with the Disco, RR Sport and RR models, and it will no doubt do even better business with the new Evoque, despite being a premium brand in a struggling world economy. They know the current market well. With the DC100, they have indicated plans to make high-tech and simple utility models for different markets, though they would have done well to have shown this more clearly on launching the concepts. If they play their hand well, they might win back former customers who have moved to more ergonomic, reliable models by offering a huge range of modular options to suit all requirements. I wouldn't bet against them on current form.