Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern said in an interview with English newspaper the Shropshire Star that the next-generation Defender will need to achieve a five-fold sales increase in order to support its business case. Getting from 20,000 annual sales to 100,000 means "we have to broaden its appeal," to make it "more relevant to the modern world, lighter, more aerodynamic and more cost effective." Or, as he sums it up, "the new model will have to wash its face."
McGovern says the Defender "has never sold on its design," which is true and false. The farmers, international NGO workers and game park wardens, those who toil in the hinterlands and drive off into the wild blue yonder, are less concerned about the Defender's aesthetics than the fact that it can be rebuilt in the field with a couple of wrenches and some electrical tape. But the lifestyle buyers, the ones cruising London and Paris and paying $90,000 or more in the US to import a 25-year-old model, they're buying it for its design as much for what it stands for - you know, the cred it earned thanks to those other buyers.
Not that it matters, because the whole lot of them still aren't buying nearly enough to justify a new one. A Defender that makes more friends will necessarily be a kinder-looking truck - McGovern characterizes it as less "overtly functional" and "more sophisticated." The only saving grace for fans of the current vehicle is that it will take so long to figure out the new vehicle that won't be here until "at least two years or more from now."