The Ineos Grenadier intends to pick up where the old Land Rover Defender left off, but it won’t - as originally intended - be built in the UK. The recently formed Automotive arm of chemical giant Ineos has announced it’s to acquire Daimler AG’s ‘Smartville’ production plant in Hambach, France, where the Magna Steyr-developed vehicle will be put together.
Smart EQ ForTwo production will continue at the plant under a contract between Mercedes and Ineos, with the former ditching its cost-cutting plan to shift this to China.
Originally, Ineos intended to build a new facility in Bridgend, Wales, creating around 500 jobs. Speaking to CT sister title Auto Express, Ineos Automotive commercial director Mark Tennant insisted the decision wasn’t down to the prospect of being hit by tariffs if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead on 1 January. However, the firm’s description of Hambach being “well located for access to markets, suppliers and automotive talent” is pretty telling.
“That Brexit is clearly a major factor at play is a bitter pill to swallow,” said Chris Elmore, MP for Bridgend constituency Ogmore, adding, “Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe was a vocal Brexiteer, loudly proclaiming the benefits of leaving the EU. Today, we can see his claims are as hollow as his promises.”
The region has already been hit with the closure of Ford’s engine plant at a cost of 1700 jobs. For years the factory produced Jaguar’s V6s and V8s, but the British company has since shifted production of the latter in-house.
Despite the Mercedes connection through both the factory and Magna Steyr (manufacturers of the G-Class), the Grenadier will use BMW-supplied inline-six petrol and diesel engines mated to ZF automatic gearboxes. Prototype testing is well underway, and customer deliveries are due to commence in 2022.