After more than 1.5m kilometres of gruelling evaluation driving, Land Rover’s next-generation Defender prototypes are finally where they belong: in Africa.
The convoy of Defender prototypes will
spend most of this month in Africa, completing the final phase of their
validation testing. For Land Rover, suffering under the spectre of uncertainty
surrounding Brexit, its new Defender is a crucial good news story.
By far Britain’s most iconic vehicle, the
original Land Rover debut this month, 71 years ago, at the 1948 Birmingham auto
show. Since then it has captivated and enabled the imaginations of many
Ardent followers of the Land Rover brand have been impatiently waiting for a replacement to the legendary Defender, since production ceased back in 2016. The new vehicle will feature similar off-road capability to the original, but tally improvements such as an automatic drivetrain, more powerful engines and sophisticated passive and active safety systems.
Land Rover’s concluding chapter for
Defender’s proof of concept testing will be conquering Kenya’s Borana conservancy,
located in the country’s Laikipia country.
This area is famed for its high altitude and is remarkably similar to sections
of the South African highveld wilderness.
adjustments that Land Rover engineers will make after gathering data in Kenya,
should bode well for future South African Defender customers – as the two
markets have such similar terrain and climate conditions.
Land Rover has
confirmed that an undisguised version of the new Defender will be revealed by
September. Even more interesting, is that the production location for this
latest iteration of Britain’s most iconic vehicle has also been chosen, and it
is not in the United Kingdom anymore – but in Slovakia.
As tensions and
supply chain concerns have mounted around Brexit, Land Rover were necessitated
to be bold in their production strategy with new Defender. The only option to
ensure a seamless launch and delivery schedule for customers, was to move
assembly to Slovakia.