Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth says the new Land Rover Defender “won’t be an easy launch”, given the weight of expectation to deliver a worthy follow-up.
In an interview with Automobilwoche, Speth explained that: “A successor to an icon faces an exceptionally high bar.”
Speth’s preference would have been to replace the Defender immediately after production ended in 2016. The Defender had been on sale in various forms, with various engines, since 1983. And its bloodline goes back much further, to 1948.
“I would have preferred to launch a new one immediately and seamlessly,” said Speth, “but a new Defender has to be geared to its community of fans.”
By the time the next Defender hits showrooms, the previous model will have been dead for four years. The marque has launched reconditioned, V8-engined versions in the meantime, though.
The Defender is a very specific product. Even compared to the likes of the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes-Benz G-Class – both old-school off-roaders – there’s nothing quite like it.
“It is better to take a hiatus, so the new product has the right substance, specifications and characteristics,” continued Speth.
Despite the launch being a point of anxiety, the JLR boss is confident it will be popular, saying “we will see strong demand,” in response to questions about first-year volumes.