The automaker shot back at rumors of a third-party resurrection of the boxy, beloved SUV, AutocarÂ reports, stating that the previous-generation model will remain dead and buried as the company crafts a new model.
The Defender ceased production earlier this year, ending a production run that began in 1983. During that time, the SUV became a rugged favorite, findings fans ranging from African adventurers to Queen Elizabeth II.
Rumors and media reports stated that Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical company Ineos, planned to restart production of the first-generation Defender in an undisclosed English locale. There had even been talks between him and Jaguar Land Rover executives, the stories claimed.
“There is no way this is happening,” a JLR spokesperson told Autocar. “We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.”
In an official statement, the automaker said: “We can confirm there are no plans to restart production of theÂ previous generation Defender …Â The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, andÂ the development of the next-generation model remains on track.”
The next-generation Defender is expected to ditch the previous model’s body-on-frame architecture and adopt an aluminum unibody. The new model, several variants of which are expected to be sold in the U.S., should appear before the end of the decade.
Despite JLR’s statement, Ratcliffe seems to want to have the last word on the issue. Today, the tycoon said his company is working on a feasibility plan for returning the old Defender to production, albeit with upgraded safety equipment and emissions controls.
“I am a great admirer of the Land Rover Defender and I think it can be upgraded to be the worldâ€™s best and most rugged off-roader,” Ratcliffe told Autocar. “We want to breathe new life into it and make it even better than before.”
The “new” old model would be built in northern England near a port facility with aÂ Â£250 million investment, he said, adding that there could be copyright issues to deal with.Â Ratcliffe’s comments suggest he would build an export market knock-off using engines from another manufacturer, a plan that JLR would likely fight tooth-and-nail.
The British automaker recently filed a lawsuit againstÂ a Chinese manufacturer that sells a knock-off of its Evoque SUV.