Currently reading: Official: Ineos confirms Bridgend factory for Grenadier 4x4
Ineos Automotive also reveals BMW power sources for new Defender-inspired model that's due to be shown next year
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
3 mins read
18 September 2019

Ineos Automotive, founded by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to create an “uncompromising 4x4” in the mould of the original Land Rover Defender, has confirmed that its new vehicle family will carry the name Grenadier and be built in an all-new plant in Bridgend, South Wales.

The £600 million project will utilise body and chassis parts sourced from – and painted in – a second new Ineos car plant currently being commissioned in Estarreja, Portugal, close to many established automotive suppliers.

The Grenadier name, which was chosen from an online poll of 6000 fans and followers, invokes the Knightsbridge pub where Ratcliffe, a lifelong Land Rover fan, first hatched his plan to build his own no-frills 4x4. The project has been live since early 2017. The company will unveil the completed vehicle next year, although it won’t detail the launch plans yet.

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Ineos expects its two new plants to each create around 500 new jobs once production hits full speed. Ratcliffe says the company had “lots of good options across the world” for locating the plants but chose Wales for the final assembly “as a significant expression of confidence in British manufacturing”. Ineos will eventually build 25,000 cars per year once it completes a production ramp-up from the beginning of production in 2021 and says it could do even more than that if business exceeds expectations.

Ineos says it can’t yet specify an entry price for the Grenadier, but commercial director Mark Tennant confided that the costs of current safety equipment and compliance testing are unlikely to allow Ineos to match outgoing Defender prices that started in the low-£20,000s bracket. However, he admitted to keeping a close eye on the four-seat pick-up truck market (Ineos will launch such a model), where prices for well-equipped versions currently start below £30,000. Four-seat pick-ups currently account for 60,000 sales in the UK and 200,000 across Europe.

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More details of the Grenadier are fast emerging. All models will use diesel or petrol versions of BMW’s latest-spec 3.0-litre straight six engine, driving through an automatic gearbox – probably an eight-speed ZF unit. There won’t be a manual option. The suspension will be non-independent by coil-sprung live axles front and rear, a system especially designed by Ineos on the grounds of extreme durability. 

The use of such simple suspension with a tough ladder chassis and a separate body will allow a much larger-than-usual number of bodystyles to be offered, although Ineos says it won’t necessarily produce them all. CEO Dirk Heilmann is taking what he calls an open-source approach: he wants to encourage aftermarket suppliers to propose their own special equipment for the Grenadier. 

Design and engineering is progressing well, said Tennant. The marketing plan is to “get close to the customer”, he explained. “We won’t be selling cars in London’s Westfield shopping centre the way Tesla does, but we might find ourselves selling our vehicles in a field.” As in other arms of the Ineos business, the firm intends to use the abilities of partners already established in the field.

Much of the Grenadier's engineering work is being carried out by Stuttgart-based consultancy MBTech, a former subsidiary of Daimler, with off-road testing in Austria. The emphasis is very much on off-road capability, says Tennant, although the Grenadier will have thoroughly acceptable on-road performance. 

Ineos is revealing little of Grenadier’s styling or design process, beyond the fact that it is analogue, depends a lot on clay modelling and will “make a virtue out of boxiness”. The project has just passed its exterior design freeze, but the interior is still being created, with the emphasis very much on simplicity and minimalism.   

Ineos’s experience so far leads Tennant to believe the Grenadier 4x4 models may well be the first of a family of Ineos Automotive products. “There are plenty more interesting niches,” he says. “Who knows what we’ll do next?”

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Comments
14

18 September 2019

...suggests abit of running before the walking stage has been mastered. Develop, launch, sell and succeed with the first product, before declaring war on the established players and their offerings.

18 September 2019

Always great to see jobs being created, Go Team GB!

18 September 2019

There is certainly a market for a basic Defender successor although the new one is nice ,it is really what the Discovery 5 should have been ,with prices to match.Obviously JLr have left that market for the next 5 years.I think they need to use 2 litre petrol and diesel alongside the 3 litres.Hope they bgetc it starting at under £30k inc vat

18 September 2019

I'm no sure there is a big enough market for a basic defender.

If anyone wants a decent off road vehicle that can carry a load and is easy to live with/run, surely they'd just buy a pick up???

That doesn't really leave much of a market for anyone who wants a pure off roader or am I missing something??

19 September 2019

Whilst I appluad this type of enthusiam I fear a very short life span for such a car, it will take them about 5 years to get something sellable out on the road, by that time, ICE will have been all but replaced by EV...

18 September 2019

I very much hope this project is a success, despite those critics of Jim Ratcliffe that obviously have issues with him. I’m pleasantly surprised at some aspects of the new Defender, but only as a more appropriate successor to Discovery 4. It’s clearly not a Defender replacement in the spirit of the outgoing model. The Ineos Grenadier claims to embody the characteristics of a truly rugged and functional off-road vehicle, and this appeals to me and some others. It may only be a niche market in the UK, but there’s a big, wide world out there and we should at least support Ineos in trying to break into the market.

 

18 September 2019

What defines the old Defender is an off-road vehicle that you can drive on the road. As opposed to everything else SUV-like, i.e. road vehicles you can drive off-road. Part of being an off-road vehicle is that it neither too dainty or too expensive, because when used off-road, vehicles will pick up minor dents and lots of scratches. Something that also happens when you load them up with filthy wet kit and animals. When pricing the new Defender, JLR appears to have entirely forgotten what the old one was used for.

The Grenadier looks to be the working vehicle that will replace the old Defender. 

18 September 2019

Really surprised at the engine choice though, surely the 3 litre engines specced will be far too powerful, especially the petrol version, for what is meant to be a  more rustic vehicle than the new Defender?

18 September 2019

I wonder how many people in the UK will buy one? Bear in mind Labd Rover struggled to sell 5,000 Defenders a year at the end.

18 September 2019

Bringing painted body parts over from Portugal sounds a bit brave - make more sense to press BIW in Portugal but weld/paint in the UK? Shame GKN Sankey didn't get the chassis contract. bet they could get cheaper diesel engines elsewhere compared to BMW. Automatic gearbox only sounds a bad idea.

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