INEOS’ plan to steer the company into a brand new market by building a spiritual successor to the Land Rover Defender is now very real.
INEOS' plan to build the world's best 4x4 was hatched over a pint in the pub.
INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe was mourning the demise of the Land Rover Defender at The Grenadier pub, a short walk from INEOS' headquarters in London when conversation turned to the possibility of building their own.
That dream is now very real.
“It has become an adventure story in itself,” said Jim.
INEOS Automotive - a standalone company formed within the INEOS family to drive the project and, with it, new growth - now has a senior management team of experts and off-road enthusiasts from across the world with decades of manufacturing, engineering and adventuring experience between them.
They also have a worthy mission: to build an all-new uncompromising 4x4 and spiritual successor to the discontinued Land Rover Defender.
“We want to keep it as simple as possible in the modern world so that you can repair it in the field,” said Jim. “But what we do want is to do is work a bit on the quality of the engineering and reliability.”
INEOS is not intending to resurrect the Land Rover Defender. It is building an all-new 4x4 vehicle from the ground up, which meets all current safety and legislative requirements. It will be a robust, no-nonsense utility vehicle, with an emphasis on reliability, durability and peerless off-road capability. It will have its own name, more angles than curves, and have a wheel at each corner. It will not be a Defender.
Jim and his team envisage a British-inspired, German-engineered, true working vehicle, which can drive cross-country, pull a plough, lead a safari, clear a minefield, cross a river and comfortably drive up to Buckingham Palace.
“It will be about as classless as you can get,” he said. “A no-frills, uncompromising, off-road 4x4. Ideally, it will be a vehicle which you can hose down outside and inside, like the original Land Rover.”
So far, no decision has been made where it should be built. But the location should be known early in the New Year.
“We are not taking it lightly because it is pivotal, for our business, and for the local communities that would benefit from the new jobs we would be creating,” said Dirk Heilmann, CEO of INEOS Automotive and leader of Projekt Grenadier. “We will not be bounced into a premature decision by silly politics.”
Tom Crotty, Director of Corporate Affairs, said INEOS had been bombarded with offers from car companies around Europe.
“Some have got sites available or spare capacity,” he said. “And there are other car companies, which have got an existing plant and space on that plant and could make the vehicle for us. All we know is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and everything is up for grabs.”
Last year INEOS Automotive – led by Dirk Heilmann, formerly head of engineering and technology – officially launched the new Projekt Grenadier website at The Grenadier Pub in London.
“We have been getting a remarkable number of emails from people all over the world supporting the project,” said Jim. “It has been quite surprising.”
A range of models are planned for sale across the world, including multiple wheel-base options, as well as diesel, petrol and hybrid engines to suit different markets. And it will be aimed at explorers, farmers, and off-road enthusiasts as well as city dwellers and adventurers alike.
The interactive website invites 4x4 enthusiasts to share their own visions of the perfect off-roader. www.projektgrenadier.com
Take Note, Cedric
Jim Ratcliffe is hoping Cedric, The Grenadier pub’s infamous ghost might look kindly upon INEOS’ latest adventure.
Legend has it that the young soldier was murdered there about 300 years ago after being caught cheating at a game of cards.
Over the years visitors have attached currency to the ceiling to help him pay off his debt – and, in return, hopefully, receive good luck.
Last year’s official launch of Projekt Grenadier, saw Jim pin a note to the ceiling of the pub to symbolise the beginning of a new Grenadier story.