How many people does it take to build a Land Rover Defender?

Published: 07 May 2015

► The numbers behind the Land Rover Defender
► Hugely manual build makes it inefficient
► Iconic 4×4 on run-out now, axe falls December

There’ll be tears of muddy sorrow when the final Defender rolls off the line in Solihull in December 2015. After 67 years time has run out for this most old-fashioned of utility vehicles, at odds with the sportier vibe of the newer-fangled SUVs. 

But since Land Rover announced the end of L316 production demand has jumped by a fifth, as buyers sniff a modern classic. Word is, the order books may be filled by the summer.

Click here to see the run-out special Defenders.

So why is Land Rover killing the Defender?

Because of impending regulations, certainly, but also for more pressing industrial reasons. Five hundred workers build the car by hand – there are fewer than 10 robots on the whole line; step across to the Range Rover line on the other side of the Lode Lane, Solihull factory and you’ll find 328 robots.

You can see why JLR top brass can extend the Defender’s life no more.

At least, not in the UK. We hear the plant will find a second lease of life in Turkey, where it’ll be built for non-EU export markets. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for its successor in 2018.

Land Rover Defender: by numbers

67 Years the Defender has been built in the Midlands
Daily output of Defender from Solihull 
1000 Daily output of Jaguar XE from Solihull 
3 Days it takes to build one Defender
7 Robots used to build Defender
328 Robots used to build Range Rover
8900 How many components make up a Defender
2 Number of parts shared with the 1948 original: a box stiffener under rear seats and a canvas hood cleat 

We drive a 1949 Land Rover Series 1 and Defender on the Solihull Jungle Run off-road course.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words