Redesigned Land Rover Defender could spawn Sport, EV models

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Land Rover Defender Works V8

Land Rover Defender Works V8

The beloved Land Rover Defender was sent to the automotive graveyard in early 2016 after decades of production. The good news is that a successor is in the works, and it's confirmed for an arrival in 2020.

The last Defender was in production for more than three decades and could trace its roots to the original Land Rover from 1948. Redesigning an icon is no easy task, and Land Rover has no intention of taking the easy route of simply updating the original design to meet the latest regulations, like what Mercedes-Benz did with its redesigned G-Class.

Land Rover wants its redesigned Defender to appeal to a much wider audience. The company will also introduce new variants to attract new customers. Previous reports peg Land Rover to be working on five different variants of the new Defender: closed and open three-door versions; a five-door version with third-row seats; and two- and four-door pickup versions.

Now CAR has added a Defender Sport and Defender EV to the mix. The British publication reported Wednesday that the Defender Sport will be more road-oriented than other Defender variants, and its production will happen at Land Rover's new plant in Slovakia, which currently builds the Discovery. It isn't expected until the middle of the next decade, though.

As for the Defender EV, Land Rover itself has hinted at the possibility with a concept based on the previous Defender. The concept was rolled out in 2013 and only had a range of 50 miles on a single charge. When asked about an electric Defender, Chris Marchand, executive vice president for Jaguar Land Rover North America, told Motor Authority in 2017 that electrified powertrains and off-roaders weren't mutually exclusive, seemingly dropping a potential hint.

The new Defender will be the first model based on a modular platform being developed at Jaguar Land Rover for its bigger vehicles. The decision to adopt the modular platform may explain the significant delay in the development of the new Defender. Recall, the tough-as-nails SUV was originally due in 2015.

 
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