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Jaguar Land Rover to end production of royal favourite the Defender

Published 26/01/2016

The Queen has used Land Rovers throughout her reign
The Queen has used Land Rovers throughout her reign

One of the most-loved and long-lived road vehicles, and a favourite with the Queen, will cease production on Friday.

The last Land Rover Defender will be produced by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) at Solihull in the West Midlands.

Featured in James Bond movie Skyfall and Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow , the Defender name can be traced back to the early 1990s.

But effectively, the popular 4x4 vehicle, which is exported all around the world, represents the continuation of the very first Land Rover which came on to the scene in April 1948 and was modelled on the war-time jeeps.

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazines Autocar and What Car?, said Defenders "appeal to every level of society".

He told the Press Association: "It's a classless vehicle. Anyone can drive it. You might be a farmer trying to get over the muddiest field or it might be the Queen driving around Windsor. Neither would surprise you if you saw it.

"It's got that ubiquity where it can be at home in Chelsea but doesn't look out of place painted white in the middle of a war zone.

"It claims to do everything and to a degree it can do everything."

Mr Holder believes JLR made the decision to cease production of Defenders because "regulations have finally caught up with it".

He said: "They haven't been able to update crash safety or the engine emissions quick enough.

"The world has overtaken it to a point where they can no longer keep on the right side of emissions and safety laws."

JLR is working on a replacement vehicle for the Defender, but Mr Holder claimed it will be a "massive challenge" to match the status of the original.

"It's a charming vehicle. It's a go-anywhere, rugged symbol of solid construction," he said.

"B ut 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."

Land Rover holds a royal warrant, as supplier to the royal household. The royal relationship with Land Rover goes back to 1948 when King George VI viewed the original Land Rover.

The Queen, who has been pictured at the wheel of Land Rovers, took delivery of her first one shortly after coming to the throne in 1952 and has used Land Rovers ever since.

A JLR spokesman said the company will hold a small event for workers at the Solihull plant on Friday to mark the end of Defender production.

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