Jaguar Land Rover ends production of Defender model

Saturday, Jan 30, 2016

The last-ever Land Rover Defender, a vehicle beloved by Queen Elizabeth II and featured in Hollywood blockbusters, rolled off the production line Friday after 68 years of being made in Britain.

Indian-owned carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) had already announced in late 2013 that the group would stop making the legendary Defender at its car plant in Solihull in central England.

Production of the final Land Rover Defender was cheered by workers at the JLR factory with its lights flashing and horns blaring.

JLR decided to axe the legendary 4x4 due to difficulties in maintaining safety and emissions standards.

"They want safer vehicles, they want vehicles with air bags, they want vehicles with lower fuel emissions. This vehicle's for farmers," Patrick Cruywagen, deputy editor of Land Rover Monthly magazine, told Sky News.

But he told Defender fans not to despair as "70 percent of Land Rovers ever made are still on the road -- you can still buy a Defender but not a new one".

More than two million Defenders have been produced since 1948 as it became one of the most-loved and long-lived road vehicles.

Defenders have featured in a number of films such as James Bond movie "Skyfall" and "Edge Of Tomorrow" featuring Tom Cruise.

The Queen took delivery of her first Defender shortly after coming to the throne in 1952 and has used Land Rovers to drive on private roads around royal estates ever since.

Land Rover's status as an official supplier to the royal Family goes back to 1948 when the queen's father King George VI viewed the original Land Rover.

"The world has overtaken it to a point where they can no longer keep on the right side of emissions and safety laws," said Jim Holder, editorial director of magazines Autocar and What Car?

"The truth is the Defender today doesn't sell in high enough numbers. The challenge is how to broaden its appeal without ruining the key aspects that make it so appealing," he said.

JLR is a unit of India's Tata Motors, which bought it from Ford for $2.3 billion (2.1 billion euros) in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

A new Land Rover model is planned to start production from 2018.

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