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  #1  
Old June 24th, 2015, 09:44 AM
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The hidden needs of the Defender

Good afternoon Gents and Ladies,

I was hoping that you may be able to offer some help towards a Master's Thesis in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover and Loughborough University.

At Jaguar Land Rover we have successfully used an innovation process based on hidden needs methodologies to create innovative products for Chassis Systems. By understanding customers’ unmet requirements we can uncover what they need, and what they want to achieve when using our products. A much more powerful baseline for innovation. It is this principle that has lead me to your forum.

I am currently working with the Human Factors Department at JLR in order to answer a question with an elusive answer: What are the unmet requirements (barriers) faced by novice off-road drivers to driving an all-terrain capable vehicle away from a tarmacked road?

I would like to know any particular challenges faced by Land Rover Defender owners when they take their vehicle off-road (examples: Human machine interface, ergonomic, psychological issues) and how would they like to see it improved.


Please note that relevant points will be cited in the final report and will make a genuine contribution to improving the Land Rover experience.

For more information I can be contacted on: mattsnodin@hotmail.co.uk


Much appreciated,

Matt Snodin

Loughborough Uni-
BEng Mechanical Engineering
MSc Human Factors / Ergonomics
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Old June 24th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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I don't know why we get a half dozen of these thesis dudes here each year, but Matt if you search thesis I'm sure you'll find some of the other threads where we talked about all of this stuff. You can also just go to the Defender Technical Section to see the couple of thousand pages of improvements needed. Can you tell us why JLR would be interested in improving a product they've already basically ceased production of? That makes no sense to me.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
I don't know why we get a half dozen of these thesis dudes here each year, but Matt if you search thesis I'm sure you'll find some of the other threads where we talked about all of this stuff. You can also just go to the Defender Technical Section to see the couple of thousand pages of improvements needed. Can you tell us why JLR would be interested in improving a product they've already basically ceased production of? That makes no sense to me.
x2. What the said.

Reliability and durability. I wouldn't invest a single cent, shilling, euro or ruppee in innovation until you get those at par or ahead of other marques.
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  #4  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:23 AM
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Hi both,

@JSBriggs - Thanks for the insight!

@rijosho- In all honesty it isn't specifically related to the Defender but it is always a good insight to see why the Defender is popular, what inspired people to buy the vehicle in order to take it off road. The Defender appears to be the last model that consumers have confidence to take off road when compared to the Discovery and Evoke.

I am in regular contact with the Human Factors Department at JLR in Coventry who tell me this is the first Thesis they have issued.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSnow View Post
Hi both,

@JSBriggs - Thanks for the insight!

@rijosho- In all honesty it isn't specifically related to the Defender but it is always a good insight to see why the Defender is popular, what inspired people to buy the vehicle in order to take it off road. The Defender appears to be the last model that consumers have confidence to take off road when compared to the Discovery and Evoke.

I am in regular contact with the Human Factors Department at JLR in Coventry who tell me this is the first Thesis they have issued.

Dont waste your time, the group represented here is far from the target customer of JLR. The current Rover offerings in the United States are nothing more than glorified cross-over SUV's. The Defender is a well built 4x4. Gear driven t-case, floating axles, disc brakes, a real parking brake, no electronic gismos to fail proper body on frame construction are a few highlights.
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  #6  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:35 AM
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Usually we get people doing random crap that no way qualifies as a program of study. This looks like an industry-academic outreach program. I suspect the marketing dept has the answer: LR isn't trying to reach a utility/off road market. Only a vary few luxury SUV owners are remotely interested in the great outdoors.
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  #7  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:36 AM
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-OK well I guess I'll start. A novice offroader is often most fearful of damaging something - this usually increases proportionally to how much the vehicle is worth. I've seen lots of Defenders at our offroad events, but have only seen one or two that have been worth $100,000 or more (US market they're worth a bit more than in Chester). Since the Defender will no longer exist, I can see the potential for body damage being a psychological and monetary boundary to bringing their $150,000 range rover offroad.
-Have them create body panels that never ever dent, windows that never ever shatter (especially that rear quarter one), and engines that don't overheat right when you need them most.
-Oh and don't forget those airbags and crush-can front sections of the chassis on the newer vehicles. Those don't do so well offroad either.
-Shit breaking. Like all...the...time. Oh, and how much JLR charges to replace those things with "genuine" parts.
-Ergonomics - passengers in Defenders are surrounded by...metal while passengers in Range Rovers are surrounded by...cushion and leather-substitutes. My sides certainly hurt a bit after getting tossed into my center console in my Defender while offroad.

My Defender f's with me psychologically all the time.
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  #8  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:37 AM
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Matt,
On a personal level - FREEDOM.
To build a 90/110/130 from a kit of parts if I wish.
To not be locked into leasing or financing!
To not suffer depreciation.
To customize the vehicle for my needs.
To own the vehical for as long as I wish (or capable) without having to scrap or recycle.
To get out to places that it was designed for, and get back, particularlywhen ease of trail fixes are considered.

Ergonomically the Series/Defender layout works already. Maximized volume, short overhangs, good ground clearance. The only improvement (now that many are getting bigger) would be a bit more interior width and legroom.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 10:38 AM
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1. Ground clearance
2. Breakover angle
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Old June 24th, 2015, 10:45 AM
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1) I have to jump on the reliability band wagon. Its really the Defender's biggest drawback. Spend the money on R&D and materials to truly make it reliable. (Transfer Case Input gear wear, excessive drive line slack, clutch masters with short life spans, oil leaks from everywhere from day one, etc, etc. There is no excuse today for having to put up with these types of things in a modern vehicle, and 1995 was modern enough not to have these issues)..

2) Sell a model variant for true off-roaders, like Jeep does with their Rubicon. Three Select-able Lockers, Very Low range transfer case, disconnect-able sway bars, stronger axles, integrated winch options, sill protection, etc..

3) Offer it in multiple platforms (as mentioned above). 90, 110, 130, station wagon, Crew cap, pick-up

4) I don't think anyone here is going to be on the side of invisible hoods and drive your truck from your smart phone 'advances', cause they just aren't advances to those of us around here, they are just trouble..

5) For the Love of God, please DO NOT drop the option of a manual transmission!
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  #11  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rover4x4 View Post
Dont waste your time, the group represented here is far from the target customer of JLR. The current Rover offerings in the United States are nothing more than glorified cross-over SUV's. The Defender is a well built 4x4. Gear driven t-case, floating axles, disc brakes, a real parking brake, no electronic gismos to fail proper body on frame construction are a few highlights.
I am inclined to agree and disagree with you on this point.

Yes it is true, JLR have moved away from the iconic Defender, and in doing so, people have lost the confidence in taking their "glorified cross-over SUV's" off-road. JLR now want to go back to their roots in off-roading and are asking why this is the case.

In order to move forward you need to have a solid understanding of what used to draw people to Land Rovers. So under that principle, this forum is the perfect place to discuss the topic, your input towards the reliability of the Defender, "The Defender is a well built 4x4. Gear driven t-case, floating axles, disc brakes, a real parking brake..." is exactly the information I am after.

------ Follow up post added June 24th, 2015 03:48 PM ------

I really appreciate the feedback!

The data gathered will be used in participant trials at JLR experience centres and data analysis.

If enough interest is shown, I will make the full report available mid September.
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  #12  
Old June 24th, 2015, 10:55 AM
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I would guess that 90%+ of new LR owners never take their vehicles off the pavement. I'm surprised JLR doesn't offer a two wheel drive option. It would save weight, reduce moving parts and increase MPG. I don't want to actually see this happen, I am just thinking out loud.
As far as what draws people to the LR label I would say it's legendary past in the jungle, bush and plains.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 11:07 AM
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I, as well as many others on this forum, are in many other Land Rover, off road hobbiest and overland related forums, as we all are enthusiasts. Many on here including myself have multiple Land Rover's in our stable.

When we talk about reliability and the context of the brand appeal, as well as the resistance of new owners to go outdoors, we can directly boil it specifically down to being stranded. An oil leak is annoying, but it usually won't leave you stranded. Time after time, I read about individual, as well as editiorial concerns from overland and 4x4 focused authors and experts, that the number one concern and reason to avoid new Land Rovers is the fear that you will be stranded if you don't have a computer with you in event of a failure. Why you ask? Because of protective mode.

Protective mode. You're engineers are F'ing you by adding this on everything. When the suspension drops while navigating a remote rocky trail on a new Discovery or Range Rover because a sensor failed, because your glorified system was trying to protect from further damage, that scares the hell out of people. What's the value of protective mode? To save a warranty from a vehicle that now, can not only not reach it's destination, but can't get back out and may have to be abandoned? You're trying to reduce warranty claims and in the meanwhile, compromising the brands claim of go anywhere capability and durability, and furthering the brands challenged reputation for reliability. If you are going to keep all these gizmo's that are totally unneccessary for the purpose of talking points in marketing, don't make the vehicles ability to get there and back dependent on them. There are owners that go off road and those that don't. those that do want to get there and back and there is no substitute for skill. A radar depth finder isn't going to keep an idiot from driving in a lake.

start producing highly reliable and fundamentally capable vehicles, packaged with a close relationship between dealerships and enthusiast clubs, as well as your excellent training schools to give inexperienced owners the training curve and support group needed to have confidence to go where they haven't before.
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  #14  
Old June 24th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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Ok, I'll bite (but I'm not convinced this isn't some type of troll/marketing survery of some genius from Toyota looking to actually build a better vehicle). If this is legitimate, then I applaud JLR on reaching out to the enthusiasts and involving them, but maybe this was Plan B, when Will Hedrick showed up and toppled Plan A. I have very little dog in this fight as I sold my Defender years ago - but I've replaced it since with a D2, D3, and RRC. I am the target market as my kids get older and I want a vehicle I can take in to the woods and spend time with my family. I'm straight out of a Jeep commercial. Except the plan right now is to do it in a 30 year old Range Rover or 15 year old LR3.

First, a vehicle. I mean, you're asking a group of owners what they want to change on trucks that are NO NEWER than 1997 and haven't had access to the vehicle since then. We're so enamored with the vehicle we literally ship them over 1 at a time just to have it and there's a market here for that. Why? Mostly because we can fix them at home a lot cheaper than the dealership because we can fix them without having a bunch of electrical tools (but there are folks on here with those tools too!). I don't know if you have the KISS motto over there, but we buy and drive these things, despite the shortcomings, because we're confident that nothing too catastrophic is going to break and we can fix it quickly. If your EAS goes out though, you're screwed.

Second, if you intend for me to drive it offroad, maybe put some tires on it that are all-terrain at least, and not light truck tires meant for asphalt. Especially for novice drivers, a set of AT tires would keep them from getting stuck with the off pavement driving they would do. I don't want to have to put $1000 in tires on my new vehicle to drive around the field. Side note to this, make it a stinking tire size that's not $1000 for a set of 4. I don't need 19" rims, I'd like some 15" or 16". Every time I look at tires for a Land Rover I own it becomes a two hour ordeal with my tire shop to determine what more common size will actually fit, in a tread pattern that's useful, in a brand that is reputable.

Third, the off-road variant. I hereby dub it the "Hedrick Edition". As was stated previously, if you want to take on Jeep and Toyota in the US (or anywhere), make an option package for folks that want to take their trucks off road, or at least appear to want to. I'm sure there are plenty of TRD and Rubicon trucks that never see dirt, but they sell. Give us front and rear lockers, manual transmissions, bull bars, sliders (made of steel not plastic), the option to have upgraded materials (galvanized chassis from the factory, anyone?), stainless hardware, light protectors, wing protectors, skid plates, racks, upgraded suspension for added weight of accessories and overlanding gear, etc.

Fourth, I want to put kid's seats in the back. You know, that make me feel like they're safe. I don't want to go off-road alone, I want to take the whole family.

Fifth, I don't want to have to fix something stupid that shouldn't have broken when I'm off-road. Like an oil cooler line. I'll give JLR an extra $1000 up front for parts like breather tubes, brake lines, etc that are upgraded so my critical parts don't seize. Shoot, I'll take it to the dealership for oil changes if you'll warranty the vehicle even if it's got mud and grass stuck in a spring when I bring it in.

In short, if JLR expects me to take it off-road, then don't be surprised and charge me if something breaks when I'm out there and I think it shouldn't have and it's covered under warranty. I'd rather a Service Manager say, "Hey man, I gotta hear the story on how this happened," rather than, "well, the evidence we see under the vehicle looks like you've used it pretty hard, that'll be $2800."

I'll cross my fingers that when I'm in the market for my next vehicle it'll actually be capable off the lot to do what I want with it, but I'm not confident that if I'm at a JLR dealer that'll be reality in the next decade. The more I write and think about this though, the more a 4Runner looks awful nice.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 11:35 AM
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Parleying off Mark's thoughts, wonder if anyone has developed a limp home EAS override. Meaning a way to bypass all the gismos and 'lock' the suspension at full height. Even introduce a cut-out cock with Schrader (or presta) valve at each corner giving the owner the ability to pump up an isolated corner should that be required. A $20 micro hand or cartridge pump would be all that is needed.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 11:45 AM
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Overland Journal has a good article this month comparing several off-road overland vehicles. I think it's on page 58. Your thesis is right there done for you.

Basically, in a nutshell, the very vehicle that is supposed to be the definitive standard by which all others are judged came in last place. That was the Defender 110.

------ Follow up post added June 24th, 2015 10:46 AM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by down_shift View Post
Parleying of Mark's thoughts, wonder if anyone has developed a limp home EAS override. Meaning a way to bypass all the gismos and 'lock' the suspension at full height. Even introduce a cut-out cock with Schrader (or presta) valve at each corner giving the owner the ability to pump isolate and up a corner should that be required. A $20 micro hand or cartridge pump would be all that is needed.
And the answer is yes. There are several on the market.
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Old June 24th, 2015, 11:51 AM
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Old June 24th, 2015, 12:16 PM
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Fantastic discussion going on, It's great to get more of an idea in to the comparison between the Defender and later models.

There seems to be a few different reasons people are drawn to the Defender, but would I be correct in saying most Defender drivers are drawn to it because there is less to go wrong, therefore improving reliability and durability. The vehicle is much easier to customise and repair, due to that nature, owners are confident that they won't damage the vehicle and be left with a hefty repair cost.

Do you feel later models are too over loaded with technology just for the sake of it, possibly overwhelming to novice users? Is it common consensus that JLR no longer support you if you were to take the vehicle off-road, in terms of warranty, new parts, etc?
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Old June 24th, 2015, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSnow View Post
Fantastic discussion going on, It's great to get more of an idea in to the comparison between the Defender and later models.

There seems to be a few different reasons people are drawn to the Defender, but would I be correct in saying most Defender drivers are drawn to it because there is less to go wrong, therefore improving reliability and durability. The vehicle is much easier to customise and repair, due to that nature, owners are confident that they won't damage the vehicle and be left with a hefty repair cost.

Do you feel later models are too over loaded with technology just for the sake of it, possibly overwhelming to novice users? Is it common consensus that JLR no longer support you if you were to take the vehicle off-road, in terms of warranty, new parts, etc?
Yes to everything stated
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Old June 24th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSnow View Post
Fantastic discussion going on, It's great to get more of an idea in to the comparison between the Defender and later models. There seems to be a few different reasons people are drawn to the Defender, but would I be correct in saying most Defender drivers are drawn to it because there is less to go wrong, therefore improving reliability and durability. The vehicle is much easier to customise and repair, due to that nature, owners are confident that they won't damage the vehicle and be left with a hefty repair cost. Do you feel later models are too over loaded with technology just for the sake of it, possibly overwhelming to novice users? Is it common consensus that JLR no longer support you if you were to take the vehicle off-road, in terms of warranty, new parts, etc?
You're starting to get the idea.

I'm not yet a Defender owner, but I do have a story about my first LR purchase.

In 98, I had bought one of the first Mercedes M class. I drove it 4 months and while it was a nice car, it wasn't the truck I wanted. Certainly not of its G class heritage. Too many electronic issues.

I stumbled across a LR dealer by accident. I was hooked.

It was August of 98. The dealer tried to get me to hold off until the Discovery 2 came out. I was insistent on buying one of the few remaining Discovery 1s.

While the Disco 1 still had onboard electronics, it had nowhere near what the Disco 2 had. I wanted simple mechanics, not buttons, switches, and computers controlling everything.

After the first reviews of the Disco 2 came out, I was sure glad I got the original Discovery. Still have it.

I also own a 2002 Range Rover. When everything is functioning right, I suspect it could outperform the Disco off-road. But there are too many things to go wrong.

When the zombie apocalypse comes, I can tell you the Range Rover sure was a pleasure to drive. But it's not the Rover I will be taking.
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