Land Rover planning electrified model offensive

At least four new cars are in the pipeline.

Land Rover is about to embark on the most ambitious model offensive in its history, according to a recent report. Starting in the fall of 2019, the company will launch a series of new models developed with a big focus on electrification.

The long-awaited second-generation Defender will kick off the offensive when it makes its debut later in 2019. Images of fully-camouflaged pre-production prototypes (pictured) released recently by Land Rover confirm its design department resisted the urge to go retro. It shares some basic styling cues with its predecessor, but it seemingly looks considerably more modern. It should feel the same thanks to more comfort features, additional tech, and more refined powertrain technology.

British magazine Autocar learned the Defender will be available with mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Its plug-in technology will rely on a straight-six engine to power the front wheels, and an electric motor to power the rear wheels. It will be a through-the-road system, meaning there won't be a mechanical connection between the front and rear axles. An electric Defender isn't entirely off the table yet.

The fifth-generation Range Rover will make its debut in 2021. While it's too early to tell what it will look like, we don't expect the firm will make drastic design changes to its flagship model. The story will be different under the sheet metal, where the off-roader will ride on a new, aluminum-intensive architecture called MLA internally.

MLA is being developed with electrification in mind. The powertrain line-up will include a 48-volt mild hybrid setup that adds an electric supercharger to the firm's new turbocharged straight-six engine, a plug-in hybrid setup that delivers up to 40 miles of electric range, and an all-electric drivetrain. The latter will be aimed largely at the Chinese market, where non-electric models could be banned from city centers.

The next-generation Range Rover Sport is three years away, still according to Autocar. In the meantime, it will receive a mid-life update that will bring more tech, design tweaks, and new powertrains. The Discovery Sport will receive similar updates during the early 2020s in a bid to turn around slumping sales.

Finally, the long-rumored Road Rover remains in development. It will be more road-focused than other Land Rover models, and it will be closely related to the next-generation Jaguar XJ. The Road Rover -- a name that might not appear on the production version -- will be offered only as an EV.

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