2021 Land Rover Defender test mule spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
It was thought the new Defender would ride on the modular platform known as the Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) found in the Discovery and Range Rover models.
However, Autocar reported on Monday that the new Defender will in fact be the first model to ride on a new modular platform called the Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), which will eventually replace the PLA platform.
The MLA platform is said to be a highly flexible design that could potentially underpin most models from Land Rover as well as sister brand Jaguar by the middle of the next decade, including plug-in hybrid and pure electric ones.
The decision to adopt the MLA platform may explain the significant delay in the development of the new Defender. Recall, the tough-as-nails SUV was originally due around 2015.
Interestingly, Autocar also reported that production of the new Defender will take place at Land Rover's new plant in Slovakia starting in 2020, instead of the nameplate's traditional home of Solihull in the United Kingdom. The Discovery has already been confirmed for the Slovakian plant, which becomes operational late this year.
Moving Defender production will help free up capacity at the crowded Solihull plant for new, more premium models, one of which will be a Jaguar J-Pace SUV. There's also plans for an Audi Allroad-style “Road Rover,” though this model could still be canceled depending on market conditions, per Autocar.