Currently reading: Confirmed: Ineos in talks with Daimler to build Grenadier at Smart factory
Ineos could shun Wales and Portugal and use plant in Hambach, France, to become the manufacturing base for the new Grenadier

Britain's newest car manufacturer, Ineos Automotive, has confirmed that it is negotiating with Daimler to take over the Smart factory at Hambach, eastern France, as a manufacturing base for its new Grenadier range of 4x4 vehicles.

The factory would be a replacement for both its proposed chassis manufacturing plant in Portugal and its final assembly plant in Bridgend, Wales.

In a statement released this morning, Ineos says it is "reviewing its manufacturing strategy for the new Grenadier in light of the Covid-19 pandemic – which has led to some delays in our development plans, but has also presented some new opportunities in terms of existing manufacturing capacity that were not previously available to us. 

Specifically, Ineos Automotive has entered detailed discussions with Mercedes-Benz on the acquisition of its Hambach site in Moselle, France. We have therefore suspended the post-lockdown resumption of work at our sites in Wales and Portugal pending the outcome of this review. Further updates will follow in the coming weeks.

It is understood that the possibility of doing a deal only arose over the past few days and a major attraction is the fact that Daimler has equipped the Hambach plant fairly recently to build a larger SUV model, alongside the Smart two-seat city cars that have always been its main output. This would suit the Grenadier manufacturing process, meaning the Hambach deal is the one most likely to be concluded.

Ineos cites significant overcapacity in the automotive production sector, made clearer during the pandemic, as being the main factor for the decision. 

Ineos Automotive CEO, Dirk Heilmann, elaborated: “Of course we considered this route previously, but as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic some new options such as this one with the plant in Hambach have opened up that were simply not available to us previously. We are therefore having another look – and reviewing whether the addition of two new manufacturing facilities is the right thing to do in the current environment.”

Covid has had an impact on our build schedules,” added Heilmann, “with ground clearing works and construction held up by the social distancing measures that have been required. Safety is of course paramount, but we also have an obligation to do what is right for the business – and so need to assess these new opportunities in order to maintain or improve on our timelines.” 

Last week the first minister for Wales told BBC News that his team “remain in discussion with the company” over bringing the Grenadier manufacturing site to Bridgend, creating up to 500 jobs. However, there had been no formal announcement at that point, despite Ineos confirming last year its intention to base the 4x4’s finishing plant near the site of the soon-to-close Ford engine plant in Bridgend, going as far as rendering the finished building. 


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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

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BeeBee 8 July 2020

Disappointed but not surprised

I've always though this was more of a vanity project than anything else. Of course it excites people, everyone loved the original (quite why JLR made the successor look so damned hideous is beyond me when they could kept the classic look and done all the modernising under the skin) and I would imagine for many people the draw of the car is its very British design and appeal. It was bonkers enough to have the car made in one country and assembled in another, and probably to satisfy the loyalty of the type of customers who would buy it, be it even partly, but now? Its a loser, a definite loser, where a car is made is an emotional appeal for a car like this, which was all about retaining the British Classic element, without that, the customer base he was looking at,  a captured audience more than anything, will look away, and elsewhere.

jagdavey 7 July 2020

Ineos won't make a profit building cars in a French factory.....

The initial idea of doing the B.I.W in Portugal & shipping to Bridgend for final assembly with powertrain components coming from Germany seemed absolutely crazy & not cost effective. But making a relatively low volume specilast vehicle in France is even more crazy. The French government are obviously involved here offering state help to keep the Hambach factory open. If this venture fails, it will cost Jim Radcliffe a lot of cash, French union demands & redundancy costs are uge. (One of the reasons Mercedes is trying to off load the factory)-

Old But not yet Dead 7 July 2020

Real opposition

Court battles have been lost already by JLR, take note all those who keep whining on about it. 

Real rivals for Grenadier is not the poseurs Defender  it's the  battle with all the cheap pick ups from Mitsubishi   and Ssangyong  and others. All of whom are very capable and are almost half the price. They will do everything the farmer, agricultural contractor or utility company need. The original Defender lost that battle itself years ago. Without the British buildt cache either it will be even harder.

If he thinks there is enough landed gentry around to buy the Grenadier at sustainable levels then he might have a shock. Even jungle adventurers are not prevalent enough these days.