British chemical company Ineos has quite an ambitious plan to keep the Land Rover Defender alive. Well, at least spiritually. The firm wants to create a Defender-inspired “uncompromising, traditional 4x4” by the end of the decade – a model that will be distributed globally and priced at around £25,000 ($31,150).
In a recent interview to Autocar, Ineos director Tom Crotty confirmed the vehicle will stay true to the spirit of the classic Defender – it won’t be a high-tech SUV, but a robust off-roader with a traditional chassis, not a monocoque, and, most likely, a diesel powertrain. Hybrid and fully-electric options are also being explored, but they could join the range at a later date.
“It will be extremely high quality and extremely reliable,” Crotty told Autocar. “We’re looking at a range of options for powertrains. Hybrid technology could well be on the cards, especially because it would help with emission management, but we would want it to retain its off-road values. Pure EV is also a possibility, we’re looking at everything and haven’t closed anything off. I’d be very surprised if a diesel option wasn’t part of that.”
Ineos estimates it will need at least three years to finish the development work on the new vehicle. As for its design, “it won’t be a modern SUV, it will be much more like an old-style very rugged off-roader.”
Interestingly, Ineos has already informed Jaguar Land Rover of its plans and there is no conflict between the two companies. Crotty says the British automaker’s response was “neutral.”
"There have been no great fallings out, just sensible conversation. We’re not out to produce a copy, we’re out to produce a new vehicle that is filling a space that the Defender used to fill.”
The last example of the legendary Defender was produced in January 2016, following more than two million units delivered worldwide in 68 years. Last summer, reports from the United Kingdom suggested chemical tycoon Jim Ratcliffe could restart the production of the Defender, but shortly after JLR officially denied the information, saying “there is no way this is happening.” A new generation of the vehicle is expected sometime next year.