Land Rover Ends Production Of Defender – Why Is The Legendary 4X4 Being Killed After 7 Decades?

Land Rover will end the production of its ‘Defender’ series today. After making the legendary off-roader for almost seven decades, the company will cease its production in Solihull, Birmingham. It seems the iconic off-roader isn’t being killed because of economics or diminishing sales.

One of the most loved, cherished and easily identifiable road vehicles, that has stood its ground against much more powerful competitors, will be taken off the production line. The last of the Land Rover Defender vehicles rolled off the assembly floor on Friday. A favorite with the Queen of England, the Defender has been featured in multiple modern day films like Skyfall and Edge of Tomorrow. However, the Defender brand goes back almost 70 years, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The final lot of 15 Land Rover Defender series 4X4 was completed at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, Birmingham. The vehicle was first manufactured back in 1948. According to official records, more than 2 million units of the legendary vehicle have been built till date. It was indeed an emotional occasion as workers put in the last bolt into the Defender. The last of the Defender rolled off with its lights flashing and horn blaring, amidst emotionally charged workers.

Incidentally, the parent company decided on killing the original Defender, not because sales were slipping or the jeep was getting too expensive to build. In a statement, Jaguar Land Rover confirmed its rationale.

“[The Defender] is being killed off because it will soon be unable to meet ever-tightening emissions and safety laws. Strict emissions caps coming into force in 2020 mean there will be certain conditions the Defender just won’t meet.”

As is perhaps evident from the overall shape of the Defender, the off-roader was modeled after wartime Jeeps. The vehicle first arrived on the scene in April 1948. Interestingly, the vehicle wasn’t considered a long-term project. The Defender was designed primarily for farmers and the military. Its makers had expected a shelf life of a few years. However, when the sales sped past not just the predictions, but even other mainstream Rovers, the Land Rover standalone brand had to be created looking at the sheer demand for the rugged, boxy-looking vehicle.

The design of the Defender, which was heavily-inspired from the original Willys Jeep, had to be tweaked due to the severe limitations on not just the prevalent technology, but the crippling lack of reliable raw-materials after the Second World War. The designers had to make use of aluminum for the construction of the hull, when other vehicles were being made of steel.

This change was a bonus, because the jeep shed a lot of pounds. Moreover, aluminum offered excellent corrosion resistance that the steel of the era lacked. The use of aluminum worked wonders for the Defender series, so much so, two-thirds of the two million Land Rovers ever built are reckoned to still be on the road, reported CNN.

The durability of the Defender will ensure that the jeep won’t slip in oblivion anytime soon. Additionally, the makers of the Defender have confirmed there’s a replacement already near completion. However, as against the stark utilitarian or agricultural look that the old Defender sported, the new ones would definitely be aimed at urban luxury that’s paired with a modern engine, which may not have the same raw grunt under the hood, but will hopefully offer a few more miles for a gallon of gas.

The replacement model for the Defender is expected to be launched in December 2016, confirmed the company, which indicates it might already be into production, reported BBC.

[Photo by Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg /Getty Images]