Ineos Automotive has confirmed its Projekt Grenadier will use BMW-sourced petrol and diesel engines in the first of a series of upcoming announcements around its upcoming hardcore 4x4.
The new model, created by the Ineos chemical company owned by Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe, will be revealed in 2020 before going on sale in mid-2021, the company has confirmed to Autocar.
A whole host of different variants, bodystyles and wheelbase lengths of the new model are planned, as part of its brief to fill the void of the original Land Rover Defender as a back to basics 4x4 that’s a spiritual successor to that car.
Around 25,000 units a year for the company is the ultimate production goal across its various derivatives, and Ineos believes it can be profitable at that level despite Land Rover not having a business case for the previous Defender which was just below those levels. Mark Tennant, Projekt Grenadier commercial director, said this was no vanity project for Ratcliffe, and that the project would be judged internally against the same profitability criteria as Ineos’s other businesses.
After the BMW powertrains, the exact specification of which are yet to be revealed, the next announcement is set to be around where the model will be manufactured, with a desire for the model to be built in Britain. Ineos isn’t ruling out using an existing site to build Projekt Grenadier, although Honda’s Swindon plant is considered too large and Ford’s Bridgend plant is not geared up for car production. It is ensuring it plant has greater capacity should its 25,000 sales target be exceeded, said Tennant.
Projekt Grenadier, the production name for which is due to be revealed this summer after a public competition to name it ends, will be built on an Ineos-designed and built steel ladder frame chassis, with aluminium body panels. Solid live front and rear axles will feature along with permanent all-wheel drive to help give the car its target of best in class off-road performance, while remaining as light as it can be and retaining credible on-road performance.
The engineering of the car has been outsourced to German engineering firm MBtech. Around 150-200 MBtech engineers are working full-time on it, with another 40-50 Ineos engineers embedded in the project. One mule has been built and has been testing around the Austrian Alps since last June.
Ineos will work with partners, including BMW, on some areas of the project, but will design, develop and build for itself in other areas, including with the chassis as there is not an off-the-shelf ladder frame that can meet the project’s requirements. Ineos also plans to build the manufacturer the car itself rather than use a contract manufacturing company, including developing its own tooling.
While the project may have been born out of a desire to fill Land Rover’s void, the project has evolved into a significant entity in its own right. The brief has evolved to trying to do what the original US Army Ordnance Spec Jeep could, in being tough off road and easy to repair. Rivals such as the Toyota Hilux and Jeep Wrangler are mentioned by Ineos, which hints at both the kinds of bodystyles it will offer and its pricing is likely to be in the high £30,000s to low £40,000s as a starting point.