Land Rover’s chief design officer says it would have been “suicide” to build the new Defender to appeal to “traditionalists”.
Speaking to Autocar after the long-awaited reveal of the off-roader, Gerry McGovern said he nevertheless hoped traditionalists would say the new Defender is “right for the brand today”.
“Yes, lots of current owners will keep their current cars forever, but to be brutally business-like about it, there’s not much point designing a car for them in that case, is there?” he told the publication.
McGovern added the new Defender was conceived to attract a wider audience.
“This vehicle has to appeal to an all-new generation of customers. I don’t want to alienate traditionalists but we couldn’t just design this car for them. We have paid respect to what’s gone before but to be harnessed by it would be suicide,” he said.
“This is a business and the old Defender, at the end of its life, was a niche vehicle. Take out corporate sales and it had around 4 500 retail customers a year. That is not sustainable. This car needs to have universal appeal,” the 63-year-old explained.
“I’m very bothered by the traditionalists and what they think – I respect their views, of course – but this couldn’t be another specialist vehicle only.”
Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.