Land Rover is launching the Defender in Japan next spring with the aim of undercutting the gray import market.
"Gray imports of the Defender have been selling for 5 million yen (E45,500)," said Land Rover Japan spokesman Christopher Ellis. "We will launch the Defender in Japan at prices significantly below that."
Ellis said it had taken Land Rover a long time to get the Defender homologated for Japan.
"The Defender is only available with a diesel engine and with manual transmission. A lot of work was required to meet Japanese emissions standards," said Ellis.
To begin with, Land Rover plans to sell around 400 Defenders a year in Japan. "These are small numbers but we expect the halo effect to be significant," said Ellis.
With so much time spent prepping Defender for Japan and for such low sales numbers, it is conceivable that Defender may make a final appearance in North America before the replacement in 2005.
* With a full range of Freelander, Discovery, Range Rover and Defender models, Land Rover is targeting sales of around 3,500 a year in Japan. Last year, just over 1,000 units were sold.
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