British startup INEOS targets serious off-roaders with the Grenadier 4×4
INEOS Automotive, a British startup aimed at utility vehicle shoppers looking for something seriously utilitarian, has announced where it will be building its SUV and what it will be called. After taking an online poll of over 6000 fans, INEOS will be calling its initial offering the Grenadier, a word with a long and storied military history, though in this case, the vehicle is actually named after the pub where the idea was conceived.
The Grenadier will be assembled in a new factory under construction in Bridgend, South Wales, which will employ 200 workers to start, with plans to grow that number to as many as 500 in the long run. Previous reports had INEOS considering an idle Ford engine factory in Bridgend, but the company now says it is doing site development on a “greenfield” location.
Bodies and chassis will be manufactured in an INEOS facility in Estarreja, Portugal. INEOS hopes to sell 25,000 to 30,000 units a year, with production planned to begin in 2021. No exact pricing has been announced, but the target market for the new SUV will be buyers of well-equipped double-cab pickup trucks, so you can expect it will be priced accordingly.
The name INEOS may not be familiar to most car enthusiasts, but the British firm is a major player in the world of petrochemicals, one of the leading chemical companies in the world, with about $60 billion in revenue last year. That’s the source of the $750 million that the company is investing in bringing the Grenadier to the market. The Grenadier will be initially launched in Europe, Australia, and Africa, with U.S. sales to follow. The company hasn’t mentioned China or the rest of Asia as part of its plans.
INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe is a car and adventuring enthusiast. A couple of years ago, he realized there was an opportunity in the four-by-four world for a stripped down utility vehicle, focused on hard work, not leisure.
In a released statement, Dirk Heilmann, INEOS Automotive CEO, said, “Confirming production in the UK, as well as our investment in Portugal, is a major milestone for the project. We are progressing well with the design and engineering work, as well as our marketing and distribution plans. In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing more information about the Grenadier, and engaging with local suppliers, the community and region, in advance of the start of production in 2021.”
INEOS is promising best-in-class off-road capability, durability, and reliability, “combining rugged British spirit with German engineering rigour.” That German engineering is being supplied by Stuttgart-based MBtech, which is partially owned by Daimler (the MB stands for Mercedes-Benz) and BMW. The Daimler subsidiary is developing the SUV, while INEOS contracted with BMW earlier this year for the Bavarian company to supply inline six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. At the time, BMW said the deal could eventually involve close to 100,000 engines.
The startup says that the Grenadier is being engineered from the ground up to create a “truly uncompromising 4×4.” As CEO Heilmann told Automotive News, “We see it as putting U (utility) back into SUV,” he said. It’ll be interesting to see how this project, when fully revealed, stacks up against the new Land Rover Defender.