Currently reading: Ineos finalises purchase of Smart factory from Mercedes-Benz
British firm will build Grenadier 4x4 in Hambach, France, and continue Smart production for Mercedes

Ineos Automotive has completed a deal with Mercedes-Benz to buy the Smart factory in Hambach, France, to use as the production home for its new Grenadier off-roader.

The British firm began talks with Mercedes to purchase the facility shortly after the German firm put it up for sale last July as part of a streamlining of its production network.

Ineos has now taken ownership of the site, with production of the Grenadier 4x4 due to begin there in late 2021. Financial terms of the deal haven't been disclosed.

Ineos has also agreed a contract manufacturing deal to continue production of the current generation electric two-seat Smart EQ and certain other components for Mercedes. In total, Ineos will continue to employ around 1300 staff at the site.

Ineos Automotive boss Dirk Heilmann said the “acquisition marks our biggest milestone year in the development of the Grenadier”. Prototype versions of the car have begun testing ahead of its launch next year.

Prior to the deal with Mercedes, Ineos had planned to build chassis for the Grenadier in Portugal, with final assembly taking place at a new £600 million plant in Bridgend, Wales.

Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe said the chance to buy Hambach was a “unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce.”

Jörg Burzer, Mercedes' board member for production, said that the sale of the plant would help the firm to hit its sustainability targets. He added: “In selling the Hambach plant, our goals were to continue production of the current electric Smart models and to secure employment at the facility. We achieved both goals.”

It's unclear how long the contract for Ineos to product the electric Smart EQ runs for. Last year, Mercedes sold 50% of Smart to Chinese company Geely, and production of its future electric models is due to take place in China.  


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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
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James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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scotty5 9 December 2020

I hope nobody is overlooking the fact Mercedes were about to close their EU plant and move production to China.




abkq 9 December 2020

A prominent Brextier builds his piece of imitation British nostalgia in an EU country.

The only justified outcome of this shameless project is total failure.

jagdavey 8 December 2020

After an hard Brexit, Ratcliffe can employ all the out of work French fishermen at his new plant. Surely it doesn't make much sense making in high cost France when your main market is the UK? I mean they only work a max 35 hours a week in France & the UK will slap an extra 5% tariff on his Landie copy. Think "Ratty" has been stitched up by Mercedes because if he ever tries to close the factory all hell will break lose, plus how much money did the French Government through in even though they're not supposed to do that because of this "level playing field" crap that the French & Germans (Tesla for example) always seem to break.