The Land Rover Defender could be reborn as Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos seeks to recreate it as a homage niche off-roader with much improved quality.
For the last week there’s been a huge amount of speculation about the return of the Land Rover Defender to production, kicked-off by an article in The Times which claimed Jim Ratcliffe – billionaire boss of Ineos – was buying up the Defender rights and restarting production. Which made no sense to us.
Why would Jaguar Land Rover even consider selling the tooling and rights to the iconic Defender, when it has a very healthy classic sales and parts business and plans to build an all-new Defender to arrive in 2018? And it turns out they have no plans to sell at all.
So where does that leave the plans Jim Ratcliffe has and which The Times brought to everyone’s attention? Probably where they always were.
It seems Jim’s intentions were never to buy up the rights to the Defender from JLR, but to create a new car that pays homage to the original, but with much improved build quality, modern engines, modern safety and modern emissions levels to create a car that would look much like the Defender (JLR would struggle on copyright of the Defender’s looks after this long) but have the reliability of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Speaking to Auto Express, an Ineos Director confirmed the plans, and that the new ‘Defender’ would be starting from scratch, with a feasibility study currently underway and, assuming everything adds up, plans to deliver their car in two to three years.
Which all makes far more sense than the idea of JLR selling off the rights to the Defender.