LONDON -- Jaguar Land Rover executives have confirmed that the long-body 130 version of the Land Rover Defender is still in the product plan and will go on sale within the next 18 months.
Plans to include the Defender 130 in the model lineup were leaked ahead of the launch of the two shorter versions in 2019, but the third variant has never been officially confirmed by Land Rover.
The new model will boost sales outside Europe, Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mardell said. "The Defender 130 will hit a sweet spot in North America, China and also the Middle East, which we're not yet touching," he said on a Feb. 26 call with investors.
The Defender 130 will keep the same wheelbase as the mid-range 110 but grow in length to 5100 mm (201 inches) from 4758 mm (187 inches) to include a third row of seats, the leaked presentation from 2019 showed. The Defender range starts with the three-door 90 at 4323 mm (170 inches).
The different models are named for the original Land Rover Defender it replaces, which identified each version by the wheelbase size in inches. Land Rover built more than 2 million units of the previous model, which became an off-road icon before its 67-year production run ended in 2016.
In February, Land Rover introduced a new supercharged V-8 gasoline version of both the 90 and 110 Defender that makes 517 hp and accelerates the 90 version to 100 kph (62mph) in 4.9 seconds.
The V-8 follows the introduction of a plug-in hybrid version of the 110 that combines a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with a 19.2-kilowatt hour battery and 105 kW electric motor to give a combined power of 398 hp and an electric only range of up to 43 km (27 miles). The plug-in P400e's emissions are rated at 74 g/km of CO2.
Depending on market, other engine choices for the Defender range include a 2.0-liter gasoline, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder mild-hybrid gasoline and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder mild-hybrid diesel with three power outputs.
The Defender was Land Rover's fourth best-seller globally in the last quarter of 2020 with 16,286 sold, Jaguar Land Rover figures show. Land Rover's top three best-sellers for the period were the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.
The Defender is built in the same JLR factory in Nitra, Slovakia, as the Discovery large SUV, which struggled in the same period with sales of just 4,831.
The Defender is one of three Land Rover brand 'pillars' along with Range Rover and Discovery and is more focused on off-road ability than other two.
CEO Thierry Bollore said the company was working to avoid any cannibalization and overlap between Land Rover's SUVs in answer to a question from investors.
"We are very attentive to that in the way we are preparing the next portfolio of products," he said. "We are making sure we are stretching upwards enough and distinguishing the products and these families enough to make sure there is no confusion."
JLR head of design Gerry McGovern hinted there was more to come from the Defender family after the launch of the 130.
"When we launched Defender, we talked about a family of Defenders: coupe, five-door [and now] 130," he said. "We are looking at what we can do with that brand because with relatively small investment we can increase its appeal. I'm absolutely convinced Defender will become a power brand in itself."
The Defender 130 will join the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which will go on sale in the next 12 to 18 months, Bollore said. Land Rover's two flagship models will be built on the only surviving development of JLR's Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), the program for which was dramatically cut back.
MLA allows electric, plug-in hybrid and internal combustion engine powertrains. An electric Range Rover is expected in 2024 as part of a plan to introduce six full-electric Land Rovers.