Land Rover's last Defender has a tough, low-cost appeal that will likely be lost when the redesigned model arrives in 2020. That's because Land Rover looks to be basing its new Defender on a modular, aluminum-intensive platform that will be shared with future versions of the Discovery and Range Rover luxury SUVs.
Another British firm, chemicals company Ineos, sees the move as an opportunity to introduce its own rugged SUV that mimics the last Defender. In fact, Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe even attempted to buy the rights to the last Defender after production wound up in 2016 but was knocked back by Land Rover.
Ratcliffe and his team at Ineos have been working on their Defender-like SUV for several years under the code-name Projekt Grenadier. The goal is to get the vehicle on sale by the end of 2020 and currently the hunt is on to secure a production site.
The Financial Times (subscription required) reported last week that one of the leading possibilities is a Ford engine plant in Bridgend, Wales. Citing sources close to the discussions, the newspaper reported that the plan is to use the section of the plant currently producing engines supplied to Jaguar Land Rover. The contract for those engines is due to end in 2020, which could lead to job losses at the plant.
Ineos will make a decision by the end of the year. Its options include establishing its own plant, utilizing capacity at an existing plant, or outsourcing production to an independent vehicle manufacturer. The company has said it's been inundated with offers from automakers across Europe looking to use some spare capacity.
If all goes to plan, Ineos hopes to build between 15,000 and 20,000 units annually, and best of all there are plans to market the vehicle worldwide. It’s too early to talk pricing but Ineos has previously hinted at a starting price of less than $65,000. The vehicle would be aimed at mining explorers, forestry workers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts.