LONDON — The new Land Rover Defender will be the second vehicle built at Jaguar Land Rover's new plant in Slovakia after the Discovery SUV, according to IHS Markit, which is believed to be close to the company's thinking.
The Defender will be built in five- and three-door versions, mirroring the original off-road vehicle that launched 70 years ago, spy photos of prototypes have shown.
The Defender is expected to be revealed next year with sales starting in 2020.
If the Defender is built in Slovakia — instead of in Solihull, England, where it was born in 1948 and remained in production until 2016 — it could anger Land Rover enthusiasts who feel the vehicle must be built in England.
Yet the Slovakia plant, with its lower labor costs, more modern production equipment and proximity to major European suppliers, would give JLR a buffer against uncertainty over Great Britain's exit from the European Union and let the company price the Defender more competitively.
The plant in Nitra, Slovakia, which opened in October, has capacity of 150,000 vehicles with the possibility of doubling that with further modifications. The plant builds the Discovery midsize SUV, which moved from its former production site in Solihull.
The Defender could be the first vehicle built on JLR's new flexible modular longitudinal architecture, which the company said will underpin most of its vehicles by 2025.
Richard Truett contributed to this report.