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Christofer Lloyd's blog - 24 February: Supply and demand

Date: 24 February 2016   |   Author:

You'd think manufacturers that have been around since the first half of the 20th century would have worked out what car buyers want by now.

However, both BMW and Land Rover seem incapable of supplying drivers with the cars they're asking for, with the former unable to acquire enough of its newest plug-in hybrid, the 330e, to satisfy fleet drivers, while the latter is phasing out its oldest model, the Defender, without any sign of a replacement.

Undoubtedly when you have a range that varies from lower medium hatchbacks to seven-seater 4x4s and rapid performance models - in BMW's case - judging how many of each to make is a challenge. But when the UK market is so focused on CO2 emissions and the 330e so deftly slashes company car - and retail - users' tax bills, with little compromise over petrol and diesel equivalents, surely BMW could have predicted significant interest?

Land Rover has even less of an excuse, having had 68 years to devise how to replace the Defender. What surprises me, though, is how some fleets have stockpiled Defenders or are vowing to extend their lives, rather than moving to more modern, far more economical and much more refined competitors.

With a replacement potentially not arriving until 2019, many fleets will have no choice but to turn to the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-max and Mitsubishi L200. Considering the step change in sophistication, it could be hard to win over these fleets when a new Defender eventually arrives.

The market for heavy-duty 4x4s might be limited, but considering the importance of off-road credibility to Land Rover, I wonder whether the Defender's passing could have a much bigger impact.

Buyers are already defecting from Range Rovers to Volvos, Volvo UK managing director Nick Connor told me earlier this month, and with no dedicated off-roader to hang the brand around, many more could jump ship before 2019