Launching a car company without an electric vehicle these days is nigh on impossible, given the tight rules surrounding average CO2 emissions in the UK and European Union, but that’s exactly what Ineos Automotive hopes to do when it begins deliveries of the Grenadier off-roader in July/August. But how?
The answer: study the rules extremely carefully and exploit the grey area between cars and commercial vehicles.
The Grenadier had a controversial birth when Ineos CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe tried to buy the original Land Rover Defender tooling to allow him to carry on building a model that Land Rover dropped in 2016.
When Land Rover rebuffed him, the Grenadier was born as a sort of tribute act to replicate the Defender’s rugged simplicity but with the flaws ironed out. Land Rover argued the design breached its copyright, but Ineos prevailed.
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Ineos has yet to reveal the exact CO2 figures for the Grenadier, but with power coming from a BMW straight-six engine, either petrol or diesel, the number is going to be high, especially given the car’s blocky shape.
Both the EU and the UK, which carried over EU rules, require an average CO2 figure of 95g/km of all cars sold, with a few grams leeway given to brands with heavier vehicles.
Mainstream car makers bring that average down by selling electric cars or plug-in hybrids, or pooling with those makers that do, but Ineos has said a proposed hydrogen fuel cell car won’t be launched until 2027 at the earliest.
There are, however, special dispensations offered to low-volume manufacturers and even more if those manufacturers are making vans. This is where Ineos boxed clever.
The Grenadier is initially available as a five-seat car, but also as two commercial variants: one a two-seater, the other a five-seater.
A longer double-cab pick-up is also on the way next year (with a wheelbase length of 127in, close to the 130in that gave the old Defender 130 double-cab pick-up its name).
The EU says low-volume manufacturers can sell up to 10,000 cars in a given year, as well as 22,000 vans.
The company still has to keep targets to reduce CO2 levels over a period of time, but those are bespoke and agreed with the EU. (Ineos hasn’t revealed what its targets are.)