Emission rules to end Land Rover Defender production

Queen and Prince Phillip in Ibadan, Nigeria Land Rover holds a royal warrant as supplier to the royal household. Early versions of the Defender were used in visits abroad by the Queen.
An armoured 110 Land Rover Defender Many Land Rover models were adapted to be used by the Army and emergency services, like this police armoured 110 Defender
Land Rover DC100 concept car A concept vehicle, the Land Rover DC100, a modern interpretation of the original model, was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

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Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said it will stop production of its Defender model in 2015 because it will not meet new European laws on fuel emissions.

The last of the 4x4 models will roll off the production line at its plant in Solihull in the West Midlands in December 2015, it confirmed.

The model had evolved over 67 years of production but it could not be adapted to meet new emissions rules, JLR said.

It said no jobs would be lost and it was working on a replacement model.

The first model in the style of the Defender was introduced in 1948 and was modelled on a World War II Jeep.

It was not given the Defender name until the early 1990s, shortly after the launch of the Land Rover Discovery.

More than two million have been sold since the car first appeared, JLR said.

The firm said the decision to cease production was "mainly legislation based."

'Workhorses with style'

Plans by the European Council and Parliament to bring in stricter measures for new car emissions by 2020 meant there were "certain conditions the Defender just won't meet," the company said.

It said a replacement model for the Defender was being developed to be launched in 2016.

The Defender is very much a part of Land Rover's heritage but it does need to change.

Making the vehicle is pretty labour intensive and it is also not as mainstream as other Land Rover models.

The new Range Rover Sport, for instance, while still being an off-road vehicle is designed for a completely different and much more lucrative market.

The Defender has for a long time been the workhorse of the farmer, but these days Land Rover and Range Rover models are anything but.

Yes farmers still buy them, but desirability has propelled the brands into the premium market, somewhere the current Defender model just does not seem to fit anymore.

JLR's head of products, John Edwards, said the new model would be "instantly recognised" by people who drive the current vehicle but it "won't necessarily be cheap".

Editor of Auto Express magazine, Steve Fowler, said the Defender had taken on "iconic status" after being driven by members of the Royal Family and being featured in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall.

He said: "It's a very important market for Land Rover, one of its three pillars with the Range Rover and the Discovery.

"As we experienced with another iconic car, the Mini, it had a bit of a sabbatical before coming back and that's what I fully expect to happen with the Defender."

Frank King, from the Land Rover owners' club in Cannock, Staffordshire, said it was "disappointing news."

He said: "The silhouette still looks the same as it did 67 years ago, although its been upgraded and had new engines and whatever. It's a real shame to see it go."

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