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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