When production of the original Land Rover Defender ceased, Sir Jim Ratcliffe announced:
“We want to build the world’s purest 4×4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe.”
That was in February 2017. The chemicals giant has since shared little of its progress…until today, when Dirk Heilmann, CEO, Tom Crotty, Marketing Director, and Mark Tennant, Commercial Director, shed light on significant milestones during a meeting held at Glaziers Hall in London.
Within the frame of INEOS’ investment of £600m (€676m / US$746m), Mark Tennant disclosed the company is building a bespoke manufacturing facility at Bridgend, South Wales. At a time when Ford is closing their engine factory at the same location, INEOS will initially create 200 new jobs and grow to as many as 500 when planned annual sales advance to 25,000 vehicles.
Jim Ratcliffe: “We have looked long and hard at possible manufacturing locations for Grenadier across the world with lots of good options to choose from. The decision to build in the UK is a significant expression of confidence in British Manufacturing, which has always been at the heart of what INEOS stands for.”
Considering how other car companies have moved manufacturing away from the UK, and with the unknown outcome of the Brexit plans scheduled for October 31st, the management team dismissed any concerns, explaining they had looked long and hard at many scenarios before felling their decision.
Work has already begun at the construction site in support of the planned launch in 2021.
Dirk Heilmann added they are investing in a sub-assembly plant in Estarreja, Portugal. This will work closely with the European supply chain partners and produce the Grenadier’s body and chassis.
Despite preferring to keep its activities out of the public eye, Projekt Grenadier launched a website and encouraged people to join the conversation on Facebook.
In response to an online poll, 6,000 fans and followers voted to name the car “Grenadier”, after the pub in which the project was originally conceived. The very same pub near Hyde Park Corner in London where six Oxford and Cambridge students embarked on their inspiring First Overland journey from London to Singapore in 1955/56.
What we know
Now that the project is gaining momentum, here are the facts so far:
INEOS Automotive will build a rugged 4×4 utility vehicle with a mostly aluminium body sitting atop a ladder-frame chassis with beam axles.
Alongside several closed body variants, a pick-up model will be included in the model lineup and is seen as crucial to the overall project.
September 2017, INEOS announced the appointment of MBtech as its engineering partner.
March 2019, INEOS confirmed a partnership with BMW for their latest generation straight-six petrol and diesel engines.
From our conversations today, I can add that the vehicle will have a one-ton payload and a towing capacity of 3,500 kg in its bid to fill the current void for customers in search of an affordable utility vehicle. This is a welcome response to recent moves made by Land Rover and Mercedes Benz to position their vehicles in a more luxury segment of the market. Tom Crotty clearly defined their approach by saying “we are going to take the S out of SUV.”
As opposed to creating their own range of accessories to satisfy customer requirements, INEOS Automotive has chosen to provide a platform upon which independent specialists can customise a range of products for industrial, commercial, and recreational applications.
Will Grenadier be a contender for overlanding?
Ultimately, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. But until then, close scrutiny at this 4×4’s pedigree is encouraging: involvement in humanitarian and conservation efforts; an understanding of the expectations of adventurers and explorers; the financial resource and engineering experience; the invitation to specialist manufacturers to develop a dedicated range of accessories. Still in its infancy, Grenadier is on course to bring change to the overlanding community in the form of a new and exciting alternative.
Some naysayers may criticise the lack of information during the last few years. But taking into account that INEOS Automotive began with a blank sheet of paper, having to uniquely design every component to fulfil their specification requirements, I find it encouraging that this mix of British enterprise and German technology has prioritised ticking boxes before presenting anything to the public. One step at a time.
Watch this space…
About INEOS Grenadier
In 2017, INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe, a car enthusiast and experienced adventurer, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, utilitarian, hard-working 4×4 engineered for modern day compliance and reliability. INEOS Automotive Limited was formed and a senior team of automotive professionals assembled to bring the vision to reality with a fresh perspective of 4×4 development and manufacturing.
Combining rugged British spirit with German engineering rigour, the Grenadier will be a truly uncompromising 4×4 built from the ground up. Engineered to overcome all conditions, it will provide best-in-class off-road capability, durability, and reliability to those who depend on a vehicle as a working tool, wherever they are in the world.
On the engineering front, we are now moving into series development, with announcements on appointed suppliers and partners to be made in the coming months. INEOS Grenadier will go into production in 2021 in a new purpose-built manufacturing facility in Bridgend, Wales.
INEOS Automotive is a subsidiary of INEOS Group (www.ineos.com), a leading manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals, and oil products. It employs 22,000 people across 34 businesses, with a production network spanning 183 manufacturing facilities in 26 countries. From paints to plastics, textiles to technology, medicines to mobile phones, materials manufactured by INEOS enhance almost every aspect of modern life. In 2018, INEOS had sales of circa $60bn and EBITDA of around $6bn.
To find out more about Grenadier, visit www.ineosgrenadier.com.