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Official: Land Rover Defender production ending in 2015

The Defender can tackle any obstacle except for safety and emissions regulations.

Land Rover has confirmed it will end production of the iconic Defender SUV in December of 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

A company spokesman explained Land Rover is killing the Defender sooner than expected due to strict safety and emissions regulations that will come into effect throughout Europe before the end of the decade. While it is technically possible to fit a cleaner engine under the Defender's hood, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay in compliance with Europe's ever-stricter safety norms because the truck's basic design precedes the Cold War.

A replacement is in the works but a previous report indicates the yet-unnamed vehicle will be much more tame than the Defender and pack a premium interior with modern creature comforts in order to reach a larger audience. Expected to return to the United States after a long hiatus, the SUV will lose the Defender's body-on-frame construction and adopt Land Rover's new all-aluminum D7 platform but the company has promised the truck's core values of dependability and functionality will be retained.

Storied past

The 2013 Defender is essentially an evolution of the original Land Rover Series I that was aimed at English farmers when it was introduced as the brand's first vehicle in 1948. Met with instant success, it went through several evolutions including Series II, Series III and Cab Forward models before morphing into its current state in 1983. The 90 and 110 monikers that denominated short- and long-wheelbase models were ditched for the Defender nameplate in 1990.

The Defender has gone through a host of engines ranging from frugal four-cylinder diesels to gas-burning V8s over the past two decades. It gained a new 2.2-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine in 2011 and several minor upgrades such as an Alpine stereo system with a USB input, Bluetooth connectivity and two new exterior colors for the 2013 model year.

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