Shall Land Rover ever fulfill our wish to bring the new Land Rover Defender to the U.S. market, there's a strong possibility that it would hail all the way from India. The automaker has announced it plans to build the off-roader at Tata Motors' manufacturing headquarters in Pune, India.
Tata chairman Ratan Tata told Autocar the main reasons for doing so would be to keep manufacturing costs down so it can be sold at an affordable price, and to keep Defender operations close to Asia-Pacific markets, where Tata expects the iconic off-roader to sell in high volumes. However, some Defender models would be sent back to the Solihull plant in the U.K. for final assembly as part of what the company is calling a "reverse complete knock down" (CKD) operation.
If the plan gets the green light, there's a good chance the Defender will share chassis and suspension parts with the Tata Aria SUV. The new Defender will be built upon the heavy-duty chassis used by the LR3, which has similar dimensions and specs to the Aria chassis and would allow it to share the same manufacturing process as the Aria. As for styling, executives have said that the DC concepts, which first debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt show, could offer a glimpse of what's to come from the off-roader, but not necessarily the final design.
A new range of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will also be under the Defender's hood, and could also possibly be built in Pune in the future since Tata announced plans to build engine plants in Pune and Wolverhampton.
The Freelander that is currently sold in Asian markets is also built in Pune.