Land Rover Confirms the New Defender Will Not Be Built in the UK

The move ends almost 70 years of the SUV’s British heritage

The 2020 Land Rover Defender testing before its world premiere later this year.
The 2020 Land Rover Defender testing before its world premiere later this year.
Jaguar Land Rover
By Alex Lauer / May 1, 2019 3:16 pm

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Back in 1948, Land Rover’s original off-road vehicles began production at the now-legendary Solihull factory in the West Midlands, England. Over two million SUVs later, the last Defender rolled off the line in 2016 after being discontinued. The vehicle gained fans the world over during the 70-year run while remaining quintessentially British.

The good news: Jaguar Land Rover will be unveiling a brand new Defender this year. The bad: It will no longer be quintessentially British.

On Tuesday, the company confirmed the 2020 Defender will not be built in the U.K. Instead, it will be built at JLR’s new plant in Nitra, Slovakia where the Discovery was moved last year.

“Although the move to Slovakia had been widely expected, it comes amid gloom over the prospects for British car manufacturing,” writes the Guardian. The sector saw a 14% year-on-year drop in March and, according to industry experts, “a no-deal Brexit could see it recede even further.”

As for the sentimental value of a British-made Defender, that automaker assures the move is not as bad as it seems. The new model is still designed and engineered in the U.K., and the engines are built in Wolverhampton. As for Solihull, this decision is actually a boon for the factory, as “significant investment” is planned to upgrade it for “the next generation of Range Rover and Land Rover models.” Just not the Defender.

All told, the move is practical. Those decrying it, much like those who chest-thump about buying things “made in America,” probably don’t understand the international web behind most products.

After all, JLR isn’t 100% British itself; it’s owned by India’s Tata Group.

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