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A replacement for the Land Rover Defender, an SUV for which the word "venerable" could have been invented, has been given the greenest of green lights by parent company Tata. The now 62-year-old go-anywhere-and-then-some truck is expected in 2014, and is being worked on now under the codename Project Icon.

It looks like nothing has yet been decided about Project Icon other than its codename and its status in the line-up, which is at the very top. Coming up with a new retail name for the Defender line and finding a way to differentiate it from the previous model will be part of the work to be done, as well as coming up with a platform and powertrain. The current platform could be too heavy to serve for much longer in the face of stringent new European efficiency regulations.

The powertrain could be the biggest surprise of all, though: a hybrid is being suggested as a way to reap the typical hybrid benefits. Land Rover showed its Electronic Rear Axle Drive technology in a Freelander hybrid two years ago, in which a 288-volt motor with 34 to 47 horsepower and 147 foot-pounds of torque drove the rear wheels and could drive the front set when needed. If that happens, the words "Defender" and "hybrid" might be the most unexpected coupling of this decade.

[Source: Autocar]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the raw simplicity of it. I don't like Land Rover price or features.
      The Koreans could built this and sell it for $16K. How about it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this thing is awesome looking. I wish they'd sell it more at the Wrangler price point, though, because I don't think the Land Rover label is worth the price of admission when you've got Jeep Wranglers with equivalent reliability and capability.

        The look kinda reminds me of the Ford Bronco concept. I wish Ford would've made that car... :(
        • 5 Years Ago
        A 2-wheel drive Kia Sorento costs about 20k, so I doubt that the Koreans could sell anything like this for 16k, but I see your point.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Land Rover is going down the Premium route as a Brand. The next Defender will not be a workhorse but a halo car. Think Toyota FJ Cruiser. It will be manufactured as a toy car for the US, and EU market where high margin and low volume make financial sense.
      I do not see a base version made in China but in India. Maybe Tata should continue manufacturing the current model in India as lowering its price point given the labour intensive nature of this product. The fact is that the demand for Defender is very low. Military applications for this kind of product call for vehicles being heavily armoured and weighing in excess of 5 to 7 Tonnes.
      The Aid and Project Sector (Red Cross, NGO, etc..) now calls for less basic vehicles (Toyota HDJ, Nissan Patrol, etc..).
      The world has changed and Defender needs to adapt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That is such a great picture of the Defender, wish they still sold them in the U.S.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @BiasOpinion: They have a 4 door, called the 110. This is just a stock photo of a Defender SVX.

      I doubt they will make a hybrid or change anything on the Defender. It has been the same since 1983... and almost the same since they introduced the Series I. It is the longest running car that has yet to update any look or panel. I have bought parts from a Series II to a 2010 that fit on my '94 Defender. nothing will change.
      • 5 Years Ago

      The complexity of hybrid is sort of the antithesis of the defender- it is supposed to be a no frills, go anywhere, do anything work vehicle. That is no longer attributed to land rover as a badge (at least in the US), so I can see them easily moving away from that niche. I do like the idea of a bullet proof electric drivetrain though- gobs of torque for off-roading, so if they can make a field friendly hybrid it might be pretty slick. And despite owning an old land rover, the modern vehicles are lousy quality wise. Scratch that, my truck is in the shop more than on the road : )
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't care how they power it. But they better not ruin the Defender name by placing that badge on an independent suspension crossover wanna-be SUV.

      If it doesn't have a low-range gearbox, solid axles front and rear with differential locks, and a solid ladder frame, then it's NOT a Defender (not to mention it shouldn't even have the Land Rover badge on it, but that's a rant for another day).
      • 5 Years Ago
      If only they would sell it in the US with the JLR diesel v6...
      • 5 Years Ago
      A hybrid in a Defender is just about the stupidest thing I have heard in a long time. The main reason people buy these (the ones that use them the way they were meant to be used) is because of the simplicity of it. Throw in a hybrid system and all simplicity is gone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A hybrid Defender?

      I'm crying.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If this car comes to production in the states I will buy it without hesitation
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hybrids don't do well off road, do they? I thought they compromised off road ability.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually from my understanding hybrids (as in massive amounts of instant torque provided by electric motors) will improve cars off-road ability even further.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah someone in China needs to copy the defender - bolt for bolt and build it. They would sell a billion of them at a fraction of the price of a real one. All parts would be interchangable. Sell it as a kit if you want to avoid CAFE, I think that is possible isn't it?

      Anyway, the hybrid idea is stupid. What makes the defender so great is it's simplicity.

      Raise the price too much, change the formula too much, or the name and this thing is a no go. At least for me.

      Be careful Tata. Don't mess too much with a great thing!
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