Land Rover hinted at it to Motor Authority. Now it appears to be true. At a press event for the Land Rover Range Rover Velar in October, Land Rover told Motor Authority an electrified Defender off-road SUV wasn't off the table without confirming or denying such a powertrain. Now, a report published by Motoring on Thursday claims not only will electrified options be part of the powertrain lineup, but an all-electric option will be available as well.
Sources close to Jaguar Land Rover told the publication that a battery-electric Defender is confirmed for production and the SUV will utilize at least one electric motor with a powerful battery pack. When we pressed for information on an electrified Defender this past October, Chris Marchand, executive vice president for Jaguar Land Rover North America, told MA electrified powertrains and off-roaders are not mutually exclusive, seemingly dropping a hint before this new report.
The new Defender will not utilize the company's front and all-wheel drive transverse-engine D8 architecture or the steel and aluminum iQ-Al platform. Rather, the off-road icon will use a new variation of the Discovery, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport's aluminum platform. Sources added the platform will indeed be closely related to the Discovery's platform. And the new Defender won't be a one-trick pony, either. Land Rover will develop a broad model range to cover hardcore off-road, luxury, and performance variants of the SUV. The iconic Defender 90 and Defender 110 names will remain, thanks to two separate wheelbases measuring 90 and 110 inches.
As for the new Defender's design, the report said to expect a "controversial" look to help the nameplate not only retain its rugged history, but also attract new customers.
An all-electric Land Rover Defender will fall in line with the brand's call for electrified options for all new vehicles starting with the 2020 model year. We don't have a set date, but the report said the Defender will be part of the brand's massive 70th-anniversary celebration in late 2018 before going on sale in 2019.