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Big Debate: The Defender concept

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published on 5th August 2014 by Steve Whitaker
The replacement for the Defender will be ‘desirable’, ‘more sophisticated’ and ‘traditionalists might not like it’ – so says Land Rover’s design chief Gerry McGovern.

McGovern believes Land Rover needs to broaden the Defender’s appeal, make it cheaper to build, and sell more than 100,000 a year – five times as many as many as the current model achieves.

His comments on the key attributes of the new vehicle – as he sees them – are still a source of tension created when the decision to place the DC100 concept as the successor to the much loved Defender model.

The question is - where do you stand in this debate?

Does design have anything to do with why people buy Defenders?

As Kahn Design have proven with the Chelsea Wide Track Defender, the vehicle’s stark lines provide a great canvas upon which to build a luxurious modern classic.

However McGovern insists he is working on something that will be more desirable to look at and brushed back concerns from traditionalists who view the decision to displace the iconic Defender as disastrous.

He was quoted as saying: “The traditionalists might not like it but they'll have to live with it. It will still be as capable as before and there will be references to the old model – it might even have a spare wheel on the back.

“The important thing is to get the proportions right, give it a distinctive silhouette and wider appeal. A Defender doesn't have to look overtly functional. We are taking a more sophisticated approach.”

McGovern added that the business case for the new model, the method of construction, and even where it would be built has yet to be decided. Solihull, maybe not? Surely this will upset ‘traditionalists’ even more…

We hope Gerry’s understanding of the word ‘capable’ is more in line with ours than our differing views on ‘design’ – which we think is a key reason why the Defender evokes so much passion. It’s because it’s simple, functional, unsophisticated that it’s lasted so long.
We know the Defender needs to evolve, and we hope it does, but ‘sophisticated’ is not a word we’re keen to see shape the look, feel and usability of its successor.

Sit tight; we are a while away from finding out, but in the meantime, how about these renderings which we produced as an exercise a while back? Even though this particular model will not be built - what do you make of it?

Does the image make the traditionalist in you want to give the thumbs up or does it make you think otherwise?
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