The new Defender, which Land Rover calls its "most capable vehicle ever," had to overcome an unexpected hurdle during its launch process: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show last September, the second-generation Defender was supposed to go on sale in March, starting with the 110 five-door model followed by the three-door 90 variant in the second half of this year.
The pandemic forced Land Rover – as well as most other automakers worldwide – to stop production for about two months. Jaguar Land Rover's plant in Nitra, Slovakia, which builds the Defender, was closed from March 20 until May 18. Production was restarted on a single shift, with a second shift added starting in early June.
"Overall, we believe Land Rover will ship about 40,000 new Defenders this year, down from the 50,000 that was forecast in the pre-COVID environment," said Denis Schemoul, associate director in charge of Europe light vehicle production forecasting at IHS Markit.