Jaguar Land Rover to build new Defender model in Slovakia

Land Rover Defender

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will build its next-generation Land Rover’s Defender 4×4 in Slovakia rather than the UK.

The previous Defender model was built at the firm’s Solihull factory near Birmingham until 2016.

The firm says the new model has been designed and engineered in the UK and its new engines built in Wolverhampton.

JLR also says it plans “significant investment” at Solihull to support the production of its next generation of Range Rover and Land Rover models however other models have also had their manufacture moved to Slovakia.

Final testing

In January 2016, some 67 years of the 4×4 being made at Solihull came to an end.

More than two million were made in the West Midlands since the original Land Rover Series began production in Solihull in 1948.

The new Defender will be built at the company’s £1bn plant in Nitra in Slovakia, which opened in October 2018.

The new model is expected to be unveiled later this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show and to go on sale early in 2020.

JLR says the 2020 Defender is now entering its final phase of testing.

‘British design’

James Attwood is deputy editor at Autocar magazine, and says there had been little prior expectation that the new vehicle would be built in the UK.

“Reading between the lines it always looked like it would be built in Slovakia, particularly after they [JLR] had invested such a large sum in their new plant there,” he says.

“But it is still very much a British design. And, of the range of engines that are going to be built for the new vehicle, a number are going to be built in the UK.”

He adds: “Jaguar and Land Rover already make a number of cars in other countries and they are still very much seen as British cars.”