Blog : Land Rover, what next?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Vivian Griffiths

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What the heck are we going to do in flooded areas like we have here in Cumbria without a regular supply of new Land Rover Defenders, now that their production run has come to an end?

We have all gone nostalgic about the story of the Land Rover now that it’s no more, but there is a big question how the emergency services will operate without the supply of this iconic – and useful – vehicle. They can all go and buy Mercedes-Benz and Toyota products but that is, I think, a question of national pride, which will have to be sorted!

‎I have been talking to the local Land Rover Dealer Principal, a Mr Hadwin, at Lakeland Land Rover at Torver, Coniston, and he had put in his final order of mostly basic Defenders for local hill farmers six months ago. He hoped to get half of the order and was a bit pessimistic about the future as the ‘Tonka Toy’ DC100 replacement, due in 2019, was not the flavour of the month for the Lake District farming community.

He is concerned about the loss of the Defender as a new vehicle especially for the emergency services, who punish their Land Rover Defenders and need a steady supply of vehicles to replace wear and tear and, of course, write-offs! There is going to have to be a change of buying policy he thought in this arena, otherwise the vehicle that will rescue you from a flooded house will be a Toyota Land Cruiser!

It was a very enlightening conversation with Mr Hadwin – he thinks we are ‘driving’ into a minefield of older vehicles which will not be able to do the job and that there will be a huge demand on spares. However, although that might be fine in theory, if the country experiences a lot more extreme weather, ‎it won’t work!

I think we are building up a problem here – and a talk with Mr Hadwin on the subject of Land Rover Defenders might well be an interesting experience!

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13 Comments

  1. Fact is, L-R gave away this market to the Japanese decades ago. The Defender’s extended life is probably more of a result of the firm not having been in a position to fill the factory with anything else until now. I doubt they have the guts (or the cash – car making’s a much more difficult and expensive game these days) to wrestle the utility market from Toyota and they don’t really need to, now that the companies image has been re-born as a maker of nice, fancy cars on stilts.

    Sadly, as successive British Governments further erode our living standards, it’s probably more fitting that we’ll depend on Toyota and Mercedes to motorise our (much-depleted and increasingly privatised) emergency services, as other third-world nations do.

    However, on thee bright side, I don’t think there’s much reason for any great gnashing of teeth about the next Defender being less Meccano/tractor-like, nor the imminent Discovery being too slick and far from boxy. I think the future Defender will effectively be a replacement for the Discovery as we know it – very practical and capable but still comfy, with the sleeker new Discovery moving to a new micro-niche within the L-R line-up.

    As for those DC100 Tonka concepts they let out a couple of years ago, they seem have backfired somewhat.

  2. LR dealer in Market Rasen, has been careful to maintain the “solus” showroom/facilities expected by many manufacturers, not just LR.

    He has however “sliced-off” one side of his (still generous) site.

    With signage, working out of a quite plush “port-a-cabin”, and with a selection of pickups out front, since last year(?), he now also represents the more utilitarian Isuzu.

  3. Maybe JLR should have arranged to import the new Tata Xenon twincab pickup, possibly badge engineered, if only as a temporary stopgap…

  4. If LR had wanted a replacement to the Defender, they would have revealed it by now. The bottom line (in all senses) is that LR have long since abandoned the utilitarian market and are only interested in luxury vehicles. Farmers and other customers who need proper workhorses have long since driven into the welcoming – and, frankly, more capable – arms of Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and, to a lesser extent, Isuzu and Suzuki.

    I see that JLR are merging their dealer networks, if this article is to be believed:
    http://www.shropshirestar.com/shropshire-business/2016/02/01/shrewsbury-takeover-may-lead-to-giant-jaguar-land-rover-dealership

    …so you can wave goodbye to personal service from a human-sized dealership, while you’re at it.

    All this may be music to accountants’ ears and it’s certainly creating jobs but I can’t help feeling a touch sad about it all. When the Chinese and the Arabs stop buying their 4WD status symbols (as is already happening), what then?

  5. The market for utilitarian vehicles is tiny, and one which LR effectively lost 40 years ago. James May’s cars of the people show on Sunday covered this, with Toyota taking Land Rover’s markets due to the FAR superior reliability of the Land Cruiser to the Land Rover.

    I’d much rather have a Solihull factory groaning with the output of modern LR, RR AND Jaguar products than one with a few hand built Defenders emerging.

    • You’re right. The reality of the Land Rover/Defender is that it was only bought in limited markets – Commonwealth and Europe. Once other 4×4’s came along, customers flocked to them – and never came back. The best expression of this is found in markets where customers had a choice – if you were spending your own money and your life could depend on your 4×4, the last thing the customers will buy is a Land Rover.

      • Most of the Commonwealth went over to Land Cruisers as well!

        To me the Land Rover Defender is a bit like the Mini when BL launched the Metro. A classic design, but fossilised as the effort went elsewhere. If the utility market had been lucrative enough, the Defender would have been updated far more, but LR realised which way the world was going and launched the Discovery in 1989 instead…

  6. Cheery load of comments here …

    The Defender will of course be missed, and let’s hope something from the LR stable can be adapted for the army and emergency services.

    But if the company is going for profitable, high tech SUVs and premium saloons and sports cars with high tech, jobs and a sustainable future then that’s a good thing.

    The Defender and it’s predecessors helped see Solihull through the leaner times and was a national icon on many levels for many reasons.

    However, time has moved on and at last the company has money to invest in technology and new kit, which is great news.

    The Defender didn’t have the scale or the profits. Does it come down to money? Well, in the end yes. The Series 1, Forward Control and original Range Rover were all high tech in their day, designed to make money for a then profitable Rover Company. JLR is doing now what it did then, it’s innovating and making money.

    Defender, we salute you! And let’s be a bit more positive…?

  7. We are all saddened by the passing of this icon that we have grown up with & is such a symbol of Britain. But as others have touched on, the costs of developing a true Defender successor would outweigh the benefits to the company.

    If they made something like the DC100 with a decent wheelbase, I’d be up for one. I really love the Defender, but for my uses, the narrow rear door is a major hindrance. Plus for all its strengths, it doesn’t do the modern multi purpose thing too well.
    I had a D2, (03 V8) which was fabulous for my needs, but bits failed on it that I’ve never experienced on any other car. And I once had an Alfasud Sprint! So to rely on, I wouldn’t have a Land Rover. But for camping & toting stuff, I most definitely would. Here in Aus, I would love a DC100 rather than a Jeep Wrangler. Same reason why the MINI does so well. Many want the retro without the negatives.
    Land Rover are no longer needed in the grass roots area & have become sophisticated go anywhere CARS. They doing well nowadays because they know their market better than ever before.

  8. To meet the price point for this market and take on Toyota etc Land Rover is no longer the manufacturer, its sublime big off road platform will be viable no lower than the new big aluminium Discovery, it will be a superb car but sit at the top of a range of at least 3 Discovery models.

    Instead they need something that uses Light Commercial Vehicle components and even then to get the volume for the tooling they need to get access to the US and developing world markets.

    Tata obviously have a place in the key Indian market and some developing markets, but a brand is needed to gain traction in other markets, one that can reflect in the glory of Land and Range Rover products but does not dirty them with “utilitarianism”.

    To me the answer is a third tier to the “Rover” brand, and the obvious choice is to resurrect the “Freight Rover” brand. With a product mix with a heavy sourcing of components from the Indian automotive industry to keep costs down and marketed in the “Rover” markets as Freight Rover and Tata in India and other markets where Tata Trucks have a presence or ambitions. The primary production would be in India, but assembly plants should be set up in a Southern State of the US to ensure appeal to the important “Red Neck” market who won’t touch an import and Midlands to ensure it gets a good dose of “Land Rover” DNA in the mix to add brand appeal.

    I would envisage a Forward Control rear drive van and chassis van range similar to the Mercedes Sprinter in size, with a four wheel variants for the specialist markets. Alongside the van would be a rear control variant of the same mechanics wrapped with 2 and 4 door pick up bodies. In both vehicles the offer could be embellished with Land Rovers V6 petrol and diesel engines for the leisure market and more utilitarian 4 pots for the commercial market.

  9. What seems to have escaped attention when bemoaning the lack of a “true replacement” is that the Toyota Hilux, which everyone thinks stole the gig, is nothing like a Defender. It may have a separate chassis but it has a car-like cabin, plastic bumpers, fancy light clusters, curved glass, not to mention all mod-cons in the cabin, all of which the new L-R will have, no doubt (and probably a few nifty touches to boot).

    If the new Defender offers a choice of body styles, and perhaps even a choice of wheelbase, along with sufficient carrying capacity and towing weights, it can do any job the old one could. The market for self-maintained meccano kits is long gone. Those who like to play in quarries have a plentiful supply of old L-Rs to play with, so everyone should be catered for.

  10. Back in 2012 the West Midlands Fire Service ran a 3 month trial for Brigade Response Vehicles and used a Discovery and Rangerover.
    They subsequently bought 6 specially adapted Toyota Hilux vehicles. Despite wanting to support local vehicle manufacturing, there wasn’t a suitable JLR vehicle.
    The Hilux’s contain all the equipment needed to fight blazes and attend car crashes, including a powerful water pump, 300 litres of water, a ladder, vehicle-cutting equipment and a water rescue kit.
    A further 13 of the adapted Hilux’s have since been purchased, making 19 in total.

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