Land Rover is getting ready to haul.
The British automaker’s head of design tells What Car? magazine that it is working on a pickup version of the upcoming replacement for its iconic Defender SUV.
The current Defender is set to go out of production at the end of 2015 and be replaced by a more modern and upscale take on the utilitarian truck the following year.
The Defender hasn’t been sold in the United States since 1997, but while the new model is not yet confirmed for the American market, it is being engineered with U.S. safety and emissions regulations in mind, according to Land Rover. However, the so-called “chicken tax” of 25 percent levied on imported pickups could create a barrier to entry to the U.S. that even Land Rover’s vaunted off-road abilities would be unable to surmount.
Land Rover currently offers several pickup versions of the Defender overseas, including a short bed two-door, but sources tell What Car? that the new pick up is being developed as a five-seat crew cab model with permanent all-wheel-drive.
If it manages to make the trip across the pond, the Defender pickup could be in for a fight the moment it reaches shore. America’s own off-road specialist, Jeep, is considering adding a pickup to its next generation Wrangler lineup, which is also set to arrive in 2016.