Crossover & Midsize

How the Land Rover Defender Is Becoming More Like Tesla

Tesla is known as one of the auto industry’s biggest innovators, and Land Rover is adding one of Tesla’s innovations into the latest Defender. Tesla models are very smart cars, and one of the reasons why they’re so smart is because Tesla can update each car remotely. That’s exactly what the newest Land Rover Defender can do.

A modern Defender

The Land Rover Defender on display at the AutoMobility LA event
The Land Rover Defender | MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

After almost 70 years of production, Land Rover stopped producing the Land Rover Defender in anticipation of a modern redesign of the age-old SUV. Finally, in Spring 2020, the Defender is coming back, according to Road and Track. And, along with many other changes and updates, Land Rover will be offering over-the-air updates, something Tesla has been doing with its cars for a long time now. 

Road and Track says that the new Defender can do this thanks to its two built-in LTE modems. With these two LTE modems, passengers in the Defender can use the SUV’s infotainment systems, such as its 10-inch touchscreen display as well as its music streaming features, all while Land Rover updates the software of the Defender. 

This is all part of the Pivi Pro system, according to Road and Track. The Pivi Pro system controls the infotainment systems of the Defender, and it even has its own battery. Road and Track says that the Pivi Pro’s ability to allow the use of its apps and features while it’s being updated over the air is something that a Tesla can’t do.

The Land Rover Defender isn’t the best, though 

While the Defender’s Pivi Pro infotainment system has Tesla beat in that area, Tesla can do something that the Defender simply can’t do. Road and Track says that Tesla can actually update the powertrain of its cars over the air, while Land Rover can’t do the same for the Defender. 

Furthermore, as Road and Track said, Land Rover can only update the more important systems while the Defender is turned off. This means that, like a smartphone, those certain important updates on the Defender can only be installed as a scheduled update overnight. 

However, for the common updates to the Defender’s infotainment and smart safety features, those systems can still be used while they’re being updated over the air. That’s the primary reason why over-the-air updates are so great. Infotainment systems can be slow, buggy, and simply problematic, so with over-the-air updates, those issues can be fixed very quickly. 

But, on top of that, with smart safety features, as smart as they are, they’re only programs. And like any program, they can be slow, buggy, or simply problematic. So, like the Defender’s infotainment systems, its smart safety features can also be fixed or improved very quickly. 

Why over-the-air updates are great

While Tesla is leading the pack with over-the-air updates, Land Rover as well as GM are joining Tesla in offering this new feature. Hopefully, other automakers join in, as over-the-air updates have other benefits as well. For example, as IoT for All explains, over-the-air updates help make things safer and more secure, all the meanwhile being more convenient. 

Even now in some relatively new models, if the infotainment system doesn’t work, you’ll have to bring it into a shop for repairs. This will still be true for a Tesla or a Defender if, say, the touchscreen breaks. However, if there’s a software problem with its infotainment system, then you won’t have to bring your Defender into the shop. Land Rover can update it over-the-air, saving you the hassle of bringing it in.

This also makes things safer for everyone, too. If you didn’t hear about an issue with the car’s software, then you may not bring it in for an update. But with over-the-air updates, the automaker can make you aware of it while updating it in the background.