As European automakers scramble to join the upmarket dual-cab ute market, Land Rover’s Australian managing director has indicated that a premium 4x4 ute is high on his personal wish list.
With the world’s first ‘premium ute’ on its way in the form of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, and established competition from high-end versions of the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, Land Rover Australia has joined the list of European brands queueing up for a dual-cab ute.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Australian MD, Matthew Wiesner, told TMR at the launch of the new Discovery SUV: “When you look at what other premium brands are doing in the one-tonne space, it's high on my personal wish list, absolutely.”
"Especially given the premium-end of that space - and what people are paying for those high-spec, dual-cab, sports-utility trucks - it would be fantastic to hopefully one day have a Land Rover in that space, but it definitely won't be in the current cycle."
A successor to the Defender is believed to be under development ahead of a 2018 utilising the same aluminium chassis architecture that underpins the recently-released 2017 Discovery, with the new Defender set to grow into a family of models the same way the Discovery and Range Rover nameplates have.
"You can't run an industrial powerhouse for the traditionalist. We need to establish a viable industrial and financial footprint before we can create a viable Defender for the future," said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern.
"Once we're making money, we can afford to invest in a whole new Defender family. We don't have to be supported by heritage. Our job should always be about looking forward and being relevant in a changing world."
Right now though a Defender-based ute is far from confirmed, however Mr Wiesner says he won't stop asking until he gets one.
"It's almost an annual flag I send up the pole. And when you look at the opportunity globally, it’s certainly a growing space around the world," he says.
"It would be a cracker, and I reckon we could build one of the best trucks in the marketplace. It's certainly on the wish list, and I know I'm not alone. So hopefully one day we'll be talking about it in detail."