Land Rover DC100 concept debuts at Franfurt, hints at Defender replacement

Land Rover DC100 concept

The Land Rover DC100 concept doesn’t, from this Land Rover supplied photo, appear to be as rough and ready as the current Land Rover Defender.

The Land Rover DC100 concept, scheduled to debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show shows that there is life after the Land Rover Defender. The concept provides a foretaste of the Defender’s replacement that Land Rover announced will arrive in 2015, though not necessarily to the United States.

The Defender,  the British vehicle maker’s rolling dinosaur that should be extinct after over fifty years, and has been a staple in safari and, well, fossil-finding expeditions. Like the original Volkswagen Beetle, it was a vehicle that was incrementally changed on a regular basis to where the current Land Rover Defender resembles the original and still performs the same tasks, but is almost every component has been changed.

Commenting on the Land Rover DC100 concept car, Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director said, “Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide. This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.”

Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender,seen here in police duty in Africa, is a rough-and-ready hose-in-out utility vehicle.

Land Rover stopped importing the Defender for the U.S. market at the end of 1997 when mandatory airbag regulations kicked in. It will meet the end of the road–and off-road– by 2013, Land Rover’s then managing director Phil Popham said. Stiffening European Union safety regulations, including pedestrian safety rules, would require significant changes, essentially a new vehicle. So that’s what Land Rover decided to do, build a new vehicle.

Although Land Rover says that whether the Defender’s replacement will be sold in the U.S. hasn’t been decided, Popham earlier said that a future Defender depended on sales here. It’s difficult, said Popham, to make a completely unique vehicle with only 25,000 sales worldwide. On the other hand, that might mean only that the Land Rover DC100 concept will lead to a vehicle that isn’t “completely unique” and could as a result be built in numbers that don’t require U.S. sales.

Subscribe to receive twice daily alerts of new articles on Carbuzzard, or follow on twitter @autoreview.