The coronavirus shut down the factory where Land Rover builds the SUV.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender is here, though good luck trying to find one. A new report from Automotive News says the new SUV, back in the US after a 23-year absence, will be in short supply through the summer. Land Rover revealed the boxy Defender at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, and it’s just now making its way into the hands of customers. The Defender’s limited availability is due to the coronavirus pandemic that halted much of the world’s automotive production in late March.
The plant where Land Rover builds the Defender in Nitra, Slovakia, is just now ramping up production to full speed after an eight-week shutdown. The plant produces the Defender SUVs for more than 100 different markets around the world. The automaker does say that it has so far delivered “several hundred” Defenders to dealers who are now delivering them to customers who’ve paid for one and are sitting on a waiting list. The company added that it expects each US dealer – all 188 of them – will receive at least one Defender by July.
The Defender in the US is available with two engines: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 296 horsepower (221 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-meters) of torque or a mild-hybrid-assisted 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 395 hp (295 kW) and 406 lb-ft (551 Nm) of torque. Both pair with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with all-wheel drive. Inside, customers get to use the Pivi Pro infotainment system with its 10.0-inch display.
Gallery: 2020 Land Rover Defender: First Drive
The lack of Defenders means getting the opportunity to test drive one is just as challenging, but the automaker did begin a program that rotates a fleet of Defenders between dealerships for just that reason. Still, the coronavirus even upended that plan due to that various stay-at-home orders that local and state governments issued. The 2020 Land Rover Defender starts at $49,900 (plus a $1,025 destination charge).