48OE Blog  
Oct 17

Written by: 48OE Admin
17/10/2011 08:30  RssIcon

If you missed the reveal of the concept vehicle Land Rover suggests may be the form of the new Defender hunt it down on the web. It has started tongues wagging. The design of the new Defender is probably the most feared and loved job in automotive history. There have probably been only 3 or 4 iconic shapes in automotive history. Sorry to all the other manufacturers that think they have iconic vehicles!

The gang of four are Mini, Porsche 911, VW Beetle and of course the Land Rover. Of these my Mum and Dad would only have recognised two - Mini and Land Rover. Like it or loath it you have to say that BMW achieved the redesign of the Mini superbly well. Sales are stronger than ever and it is now highly profitable. They kept both its distinctiveness and its individuality through design and excellence in production process. It is something the workers in Oxford should be very proud of.

By contrast VW did not get it right and the new Beetle has not kept iconic status. So it is now the turn  of Land Rover to reinvent itself. The Defender of today will live on due to the vast numbers still on the road.  These are bolstered by the significant number of after-market suppliers who will continue to deliver nearly every single component that ever existed.

Deep down I hope Tata may return to the original roots and seize  an opportunity to conquer SE Asia and Australia. They could manufacture a robust utility vehicle in China or India that is simple to service and maintain. Modern vehicles by their very nature do not meet these criteria.

What about military and utility use? Will Land Rover embrace this in the new design or will they see domestic consumers as their future? It is these questions that will have a big impact on design. All modern vehicles have to meet EU regulations for emissions and crash testing etc. Thus shapes and exteriors are somewhat dictated. I hope the designers find a way round the uniformity of modern car design.

Will we ever see fully kitted vehicles with the myriad of accessories that are currently fitted to Defenders. It may not have escaped your eagle eye that additional parts and accessories available from Manufacturers are now few and far between. Each item that is fitted to the outside of a vehicle would have to be crash tested and they are too fearful of legal action against them if they sell and fit these through the Dealer network. Personal injury to all, regardless of how it is caused, is a big motivator.

So the future design may not please all enthusiasts but remember the vehicles will have to be profitable (regularly we have been told that the current Defender has not been for many years) and most importantly sustainable and  future proof for planned  legislation.

The position on fuel is also an interesting one. If a new Defender comes out in 2014/15 - what price Diesel and Petrol? Is some form of hybrid on the cards? Most of us don’t like change but it is inevitable. I just wish we could change people and their driving habits rather than strip away individuality in vehicle design. I can’t wait to see what hits the market but my 1948 Series 1 is a tough act to follow!