|The next Land Rover Defender will be designed and built for a new class of owner, and although the views of current owners will be taken into account, they won’t override everything.
That’s the view of Land Rover global brand director John Edwards, who says the company is looking forward to the next decade with optimism and excitement.
Edwards, who was in Auckland recently for the final of the Rugby World Cup, said Land Rover’s worldwide sales were up 15 percent this year on last year’s record 25 percent increase.
While much of the success has been driven by sales leaps in China, Brazil, Russia and India, where Land Rover unashamedly trades on its Britishness compared to its rivals.
The increasing numbers are expected to be added to by the demand for the just-launched Range Rover Evoque, which has far exceeded expectations with 35,000 pre orders.
Going on to talk about the Defender, he said that at the recent Frankfurt motor show Land Rover unveiled the DC100 concept, hinting at what a replacement for the iconic Defender might look like, and prompting howls of outrage from the Defender faithful.
Speaking about the DC100, Edwards said: “Some of the enthusiasts have not been very pleased by the design we showed at Frankfurt and we absolutely predicted that!
“The Defender enthusiasts have been huge advocates for us, so we take their views seriously. But we have to remember that some of them are driving a 25-year-old car they bought second hand as a 15-year-old car, and we’re addressing a different area of the market.
“But DC stands for ‘Defender Concept’. It is a concept. The production car will be a workhorse. It will be versatile, it will be capable, it will be durable, it will be dependable, it will be abusable, it will be usable.
“It will really be a vehicle that goes back to the heart of what Defender stood for all those years ago.”
With the current Defender expected to stay in production until at least 2015 – possibly even longer – Edwards admits there is still a lot of work to do on its eventual replacement. But while there may still be some uncertainty surrounding the finer details, an eventual replacement is a certainty.
“We will go on producing the current vehicle as long as there is a demand for it. I think in some markets there may be demand for that car that will continue alongside the new model, possibly some of the emerging markets, because it is single-mindedly a work tool.
“There is no long-term plan to have the two cars produced alongside each other, but it is certainly something we will look at.”
As far as the sales increases the increasing numbers are expected to be added to by the demand for the just-launched Range Rover Evoque, which has far exceeded expectations with 35,000 pre orders.
“Probably our biggest mistake was under-estimating demand and we are not going to be able to supply as many as we’d like,” said Edwards.
But in the meantime, next on Land Rover’s agenda is the replacement for the top-of-the-line Range Rover Vogue, which Edwards says will be a much lighter vehicle to meet future emission regulations, a feature of all future Land Rover product planning.
Land Rover boss on Defender
Tuesday, 15 November 2011