Land Rover will no longer build the iconic Defender sports utility vehicle starting in the middle of the decade "due to legislative reasons," a Land Rover spokesman told Automotive News Europe. Land Rover is currently developing a vehicle that will replace the Defender, although the carmaker did not disclose any details of the new product, including the timing of its release.
Land Rover sold the Defender SUV in the United States in the 1960s through 1974 in two versions -- a Jeep Wrangler-like off-roader having an 88-inch wheelbase; and a larger safari wagon based on a 110-inch wheelbase. Land Rover managed to survive parent British Leyland and resumed selling the same versions of the Defender in the US in the mid-1990s. Because of the cult-like following for the Defender in North America, prices of even used models remained high. This is why many are imported, usually in an illegal manner.
Land Rover discontinued selling the Defender in the US since the SUV no longer complied with federal safety regulations requiring driver and passenger side air bags. Max Warburton, an analyst at Bernstein Research, wrote in a recent report on Jaguar Land Rover that a Defender replacement will not be rolled out until 2019 at the earliest due to a lack of volume and weak business case.
Land Rover unveiled the DC100 concept at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show to provide a glimpse of a new Defender. Warburton, however, said that land Rover has cancelled the steel-based concept, and the brand is exploring the possibility of developing a more expensive aluminum vehicle underpinned by the current Range Rover platform. [source: ABR]