News : INEOS Automotive set to move production overseas

Ineos Grenadier

INEOS Automotive looks set to abandon its plans to build the new Grenadier (above) at a new production facility in Bridgend, Wales. The favoured location looks likely to be the Daimler-owned Smart factory at Hambach in France, which is now up for sale.

INEOS Automotive Chief Executive, Dirk Heilmann, said: ‘Overcapacity has long been a major issue for the automotive sector.  Of course we considered this route previously but, as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some new options such as this one with the plant in Hambach have opened up that were simply not available to us previously.’

The Bridgend plant would have created 200 new jobs, expanding to 500 once production was fully up-to speed. The Welsh Government was set to aid the venture, which was close to Ford’s engine plant, which is set to close.

Heilmann added: ‘The pandemic has had an impact on our build schedules with ground clearing works and construction held up by the social distancing measures that have been required.’

New plant in Wales looks set to be put on hold

Marketing chief Tom Crotty told CAR, ‘the Grenadier will be an uncompromising 4×4 with a ladder chassis, beam axles, locking differentials. It [will] initially be in station wagon guise, but other bodies [will] follow, starting with a twin-cab pick-up. Aftermarket specialists [are going to] be encouraged to come up with their own configurations and accessories. There will be long and short wheelbases.’

Welsh Government Economy and Transport Minister, Ken Skates previously said on the original production announcement: ‘The Welsh Government has worked closely with the company to make this happen and I look forward to seeing the development of the new site progress ahead of the planned start of production in 2021.’

INEOS Group Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe said: ‘We have looked long and hard at possible manufacturing locations for Grenadier across the world with lots of good options to choose from.’

Familiar looks for new 4×4

The styling of the Grenadier off-roader is a bit familiar, being a cross of Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class. It started out as an idea three years ago, and is now getting very serious indeed, with prototypes in testing, a new deal inked with Magna Steyr and a section of the market pining after a direct replacement for the original Land Rover Defender.

Built from the ground up on an all-new platform, the INEOS Grenadier has been designed on purpose: namely to meet the demands of its future owners for a rugged, capable and comfortable go-anywhere working vehicle. That it looks like a Land Rover Defender is hardly a surprise – but what is impressive is just how similar it looks.

‘The brief was simple. We set out to design a modern, functional and highly capable 4×4 vehicle with utility at its core’, said Toby Ecuyer, Head of Design. We assume his is one of the easiest jobs in the industry. He continued: ‘A design that is “easy-to-read”, with no ambiguity about the Grenadier’s role in life. There to do everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Nothing is for show. Modern engineering and production techniques ensure the Grenadier is highly capable, but we have been able to stay true to the essence of creating a utilitarian vehicle that will stand the test of time.’

Austrian development

INEOS Automotive has confirmed that the Austrian four-wheel drive and volume-build specialist Magna Steyr will undertake series development of the Grenadier on the company’s stamping ground of the Shöckl mountain near Graz. This is great news for anyone who thinks that INEOS will have its work cut out making the Grenadier working properly off-road – the company recently perfected the new G-Class for Mercedes-Benz there.

The company says that Magna Powertrain has been working on the chassis and suspension systems onboard since inception.  The new car, which was conceived to replace the original Land Rover Defender now that Jaguar Land Rover has moved its successor upmarket, will be built in volumes of up to 25,000 per year.

A new sub-assembly plant at Estarreja in Portugal will produce the Grenadier’s body and chassis, working in conjunction with the company’s European supply chain partners. INEOS has also confirmed that the new car will be powered by BMW’s B57/B58 engine family, so each Grenadier will have a modular 3.0-litre petrol or diesel straight six which sends its drive through a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic gearbox and a separate low-range transfer case.

And on its predictable design?

Dirk Heilmann added: ‘Showing the design now allows us to focus on the critical next phase of the vehicle’s development, testing its capability and durability. We have a very challenging programme ahead, as we put prototypes through their paces in all conditions, on the way to accumulating some 1.8 million test kilometres over the coming year. From today the covers are off. Testing ‘in plain sight’ without the need for camouflage wrapping, foam blocks or fake panels is an added benefit.’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe added: ‘The Grenadier project started by identifying a gap in the market, abandoned by a number of manufacturers, for a utilitarian off-road vehicle. This gave us our engineering blueprint for a capable, durable and reliable 4×4 built to handle the world’s harshest environments. But it had to look the part as well. As you will see today, Toby and his team have done a great job in delivering a design that is both distinctive and purposeful.’

…and apparently different enough to the Defender not to have Jaguar Land Rover’s lawyers knocking on the door!

Keith Adams


  1. Just why does a “greenfield site” need to be lost to this admittedly worthwhile project? With all the supposed closed industrial sites in south Wales, surely one could one found by Ineos. Yet more destruction of the environment. I’d back Extinction Revolution camping out on this sward of our ONCE green and pleasant land.

    • @ Eric Hayman: I agree with you completely on this. As the project started three years ago then Ineos could have looked at potential sites that we already knew were likely to close, such as the Bridgend engine assembly plant owned by Ford or even Longbridge in the West Midlands.

      The process of demolishing an existing plant which still has some functional use and building an all-new facility on a greenfield site is definitely not showing a commitment to the environment, either by the Ineos Group or Welsh Government. If we’re honest, Jaguar Land Rover committed the same ‘crime’ when building their engine plant in Wolverhampton rather than identifying an existing redundant factory to transform and reuse.

      Then again, ‘we’ are already doing something similar with old stock housing up and down the country just to artificially sustain jobs in the “precious” construction industry, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  2. I do hope the project succeeds, but what irony that one of the biggest brexiters in the country is having his vehicle bodies produced in Europe!

    • Seems a bit odd to have 2 separate plants to produce this, it would surely make more sense to produce the whole thing in either Wales or Portugal?

      • Probably more democratic than the unholy alliance of billionaire tax dodgers, their brainwashed Neanderthal goons & other Putin / Trump worshippers who (think they) have something to gain from getting the EU out the way.

    • Par for the course. Dyson moving his HQ off shore and brexiters moving their money offshore and betting against the UK in the markets.

      Brexiters don’t put their money where their mouths are.

  3. I wish it well, but I fear that they target a narrow segment of the market, squeezed between the cheap and cheerful pick ups from Asia and the more sophisticated SUVs.

    Add into that the push to electromobility, Rural Defender customers are very suited to be adopters, they don’t go far or fast, low torque electric power is great for hauling and off road and they invariably have access to off street parking, 3 phase power supply (many generating their own power through solar and wind) and will desire the simplicity, reliability and low sevicing of an EV power train.

    It makes me wonder as to why they have not got at EV version at launch!

    Could it be the Brexit mindset has of its creator is looking back rather than forward?

  4. Very surprised that this “basic” off roader will have 3 litre 6 cylinder BMW engines (petrol or diesel), when the new Defender uses 2 litre Ingenium units.

    The Grenadier will have an awful lot of power, surely not needed for the roles it will be undertaking?

  5. Not built in Wales just assembled with a body and chassis made in Portugal.,the engine made in Germany so the factory isn’t building cars it’s assembling CKD kits. It’ll be interesting to see how it does but Ineos will have it’s work cut out with the established Japanese 4×4 manufacturers such as Isuzu Mitsubishi,Nissan & Toyota having such a grip on the market segment

  6. Not sure it matters whether they are assembling or building – it’s in the UK – it’s work for people and it’s a brave venture – let all of us glass half full guys get behind it.

    • The car industry is multinational now and most cars are assembled from parts made all over the world. At least the body will be British and the Grenadier could create hundreds of jobs in Wales and hopefully thousands of exported models, so let’s back it.

      • Multinational and parts from all over the world – yes! But not body and chassis, vehicle manufacturers will not even ship skin panels these days. The low density leads to very high logistics costs – costs that your efficient competitor does not have. Vehicle manufacturers use body and engine manufacture as a big chunk of added value, it does not make sense to give this margin to your suppliers because the more you do this the less margin you have for yourself.

  7. Being positive – Radcliff is not Delorean. He has the money.
    I’ve met consultants who are putting in his ERP system and they say it’s all top grade best of breed and these guys have worked on projects at BMW. They’ve got a “virtual factory” up and running now.
    He’s got a billion cash in the bank ringfenced for this project. Only question in my mind – where are his dealers? If he’d done this a few years earlier could have bought the shell of rover…

  8. By the time this vehicle is launched there should be a plug in Hybrid Defender available, and there’s going to be a massive change to Electric and Hybrid vehicles in the couple of years, will this vehicle find itself behind the times or will it be able to find enough buyers in its niche?

    • Now that is funny, he personally doesn’t have enough money, he has equity, JLR would have a value of billions, today, probably over 10 Billion if not significantly more, his wealth is on paper, 49% value of shares in Ineos, so NO, he could not just buy JLR, and i doubt very much Ineos would want to buy a Behemoth like JLR, the other 51% would worry about share price and dividends.

      • The current market cap of all of Tata Motors, including JLR, is 5 billion 4 billion GBP. How much of that is JLR? If a business is burning cash it’s worth very little. .

        I suspect the Treasury will end up with a slice of JLR – “Project Birch” ans it will be interesting to see what price they go in at

  9. I’ve a sneaking suspicion hybrid and electric going to blow up in a lot of people’s faces in short order because customers aren’t buying them for climate reasons (which is good because they’re unmitigated shite for the environment) they’re buying them because cheap electricity.

    As soon as that changes, and it will, demand will go down quicker than the MV Estonia.

    And of all the possible engine choices why pick Bavarian Money Wasters – plenty of other viable options.

  10. Sad that none of the design and engineering has been done by UK companies. We have some of the best automotive engineering and design consultancies. Ironic given Radcliffe’s support for Brexit.

  11. I can only hope it is a better thing than the Defender that had the BMW engine, they were bloody awful and the company I was working for ended up getting shot of them all and using Ford Rangers which were cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, more comfortable and more reliable.
    Land Rover lost the plot towards the end of the Defender and the replacement isn’t going to serve the market it should be aimed because that market was lost a long, long time ago. It will be much more likely seen on the school run, parked on the pavement to justify the off road capability.

    • The Defender never used BMW engines. Final versions of the car used Ford Puma diesels – also used in the Transit. The new car is indeed targeting a different market, a profitable one – and frankly I couldn’t give a stuff if owners of the new car choose to allow their children to travel in it now and again!

      • There was a South African produced Defender with a BMW engine.
        How do you know that this different market is profitable? It is certainly a relatively small niche market with very few players outside military (that is not profitable!) Unimog maybe?

  12. All sorts of flag waving nonsense has accompanied every article about this car, yet it becomes more Teutonic by the minute – BMW engines and Steyr drive trains. This factory in South Wales will be like Vauxhall at Ellesmere port – a screwdriver operation receiving crates of parts from the Fatherland.

    • Forgot to add that they mention Carraro – this is a large long established and very reputable Italian supplier of 4wd tractor axles so Ineos are going down a tough proven and pragmatic/cost effective sourcing route.

  13. It will be really interesting to see how well this sells (vs the new Defender) and whether Ineos actually make a profit on the enterprise. There was always a market for a modern day “original” Defender, but is the market large enough to make a return?

    One thing in its favour I guess is that they won’t have to make many changes to it over the years.

  14. Strongly recommend the videos on the Grenadier website – you can see how much effort is being put in and what a serious piece of well thought through offroad kit it will be. Bridgend will be more than just a CKD site. Portugal is a good low cost manufacturing country not too far from the UK.

  15. Well, I do wish it all the best and hope it sustains those hundreds of jobs in Wales. It is a real shame that Land Rover has repositioned the Defender into a segment that was once the domain of the Discovery, which itself looks rather a pointless offering these days. Particularly in terms of frontal styling, packaging and pricing which makes it compete more with Range Rover offerings. There really is a ludicrous amount of overlap in Land Rover’s ever expanding product range which can’t be sustainable long term.

    If the Grenadier finds appeal as a no nonsense off-roader that is happy getting its axles submerged in mud on farms, in quarries and forests etc. then hopefully it will encourage potential buyers to be supporting jobs in this country again. And wouldn’t it be nice to see our army using them too as a replacement for their ageing Land Rovers? Even better, its success won’t be built on brand snobbery or Kings Road posing power, but on something more honest.

    Hopefully in time there will also be the availability of smaller, more fuel efficient engine options.

    Good luck to it, I say!

  16. Disappointing choice of engine. I would have expected a petrol V8 in view of torque required at low revs.

  17. Like the look of it, not sure about it being equipped with just 3-litre petrol and diesel engines as opposed to an entry-level 2-litre and range-topping V8 engine options.

    Also curious to know whether SWB 3-door and 2-door pick-up versions are in the pipeline?

  18. I’ve seen pictures of a pick up, but it’s a four door crew cab. I’m pretty sure there is an SWB version.
    I imagine by sticking to one shape of engine they are minimising development costs. Being BMW units there will be lots of software options to vary the power output, up or down

  19. Yes much of the work was outsourced to outside companies in other countries but this is a fledgling operation that once up and running will become more capable of independent development and manufacturing within its own facilities. 25000 units per year sounds modest but I’m sure they will ramp up production and expand operations over time especially with exports to global markets (Australia would be an ideal market as the similar Toyota 70 series Landcruiser is still popular here which the Grenadier would directly compete).

  20. At the price of £40k for the basic car, its more expensive than the basic LRD, i can not see how this company will make money, ever, let alone build a lot of cars on 200 workers, which are NOT all line workers, the hundreds of millions already spent to get this far, then the more tens of millions to source and build a new, plant, let alone fit it out, then the spend on dealers, advertising, marketing, testing, and so on, before you even get to build, then, the market that that model is in will be very small, so how they will make enough of these to get economies of scale, is beyond me…. Tesla are the only all brand mass market EV company, the car company thats what the world needs now, and they cant make significant profits, they have lost tens of billions, yet Musk has the personal fortune to bail it out if need be, Ratcliffe only has his shares in Ineos that are worth the majority of his personal worth.

    And for all the bluster about British this and British that, Ineos is registered in Luxembourg to avoid UK taxation, they are not building anything here, just assembling, and for me that not that good, JLR, Nissan, Toyota and most other UK brands build here, they make their panels, chassis and so on, Grenadier will not make any money, unless they do an Amazon and fiddle the books and get it registered as a foreign company.

  21. Looks like it might be assembled in France at the ex Smart plant. Makes sense given that MBtech (the designers / engineers) are close. Likewise for the engines and much of the running gear.
    Wales and Portugal with lose out. Ironic eh!

  22. Let’s be honest. It’s a ‘well executed’ rip-off of Land Rover design cues, investment and heritage from over the years.
    I think they should be condemned for that, even if they have lots of money behind the project.
    If it was a ‘Chinese knock-off’, people would be angry.

  23. Looks like thy have bought some redundant inner panel press tools from JLR: hope they got a deal. I hope also, they have updated the cramped driving position and the crash performance.

  24. So, uh….
    -R&D conducted outside the UK
    -Manufacturing not being done in the UK
    -Ineos HQ is in Luxembourg so won’t be paying tax in the UK

    Reminds me of Dyson, in a way – funny now he had similar political affiliations to Radcliffe.

    Never mind that the Grenadier will be 5k more than a new Defender which has already been slated for its price and that Tata are to produce it in Slovakia – I guess at least the R&D was done in this country unlike the Grenadier!

  25. It sounds to me as though the project has collapsed before it has started. I cannot remember a motoring project started by a non motor company that ever got anywhere ( leaving aside those of more than a century ago )

    • @christopher storey, I’m old enough to remember John De Lorean, a frustrated General Motors executive and his dreams of making upmarket sports cars. We all know how this ended, the project collapsed with the loss of over 2000 jobs in Belfast and £ 40 million in taxpayers money lost as the car sold in penny numbers. At least INEOS haven’t got as far as building a factory in Bridgend and then doing a De Lorean.

      • Well, Glenn, I did think about de Lorean when I wrote this, but not only did it have JZDL’s industry experience, but also Lotus were considerably involved, so that was a case of a motor collapse, as was TVR, Aston Martin , Jowett , Invicta … the list of those is endless, but the fact is that I cannot point to any success from scratch ( certainly since 1945 ) unless there was a motor industry background. I suppose it could be argued that SS was started by William Lyons without much in the way of motor industryexperience , but of course he had substantial backing from Henly’s and , indirectly, Austin

  26. Er, Tesla?

    Disappointed by this – if I was their Purchasing Director I’d be handing my notice in – it’s a bit late in the day and must create a lot of disturbance to potential/former suppliers.

    So Mercedes Benz, owner of the Smart plant and manufacturer of the G Wagen and Unimog, are selling to a competitor using its major rival (BMW) engines. That will end well. Is this going to be like squeezing the Rover 75 into Longbridge and have they considered what press capacity they will need? Are Renault involved in this given the Smart/Twingo JV?

    • Er Tesla is right …. it’s never made a penny, sales outside the USA are virtually non-existent , and if it’s still around in 5 years I shall be very surprised

      • I see plenty of Teslas around though I’m not far from a dealership, though I wonder for how long Elon Musk’s other business ventures can bankroll it for.

        • I also see a lot of Teslas around (Nottingham), although I can’t say I’m a big fan of them from a visual angle – they all seem very big, very wide, and looking like a blancmange.

      • The Tesla Model 3 has been in the UK Top 10 bestsellers’ list four times since it went on general sale in 2019. It’s proving pretty popular in Europe, too.

        • Keith : are you sure you are not confusing registrations with sales ? Evidence of sales needed

          • Here in Germany Teslas are not rare anymore. It is one of the few companies that does not really need to push the cars onto the market, i.e. leasing rates for business customers are high.

            The Model 3 alone outsold the complete Jaguar or Honda range in Germany in the 1st half of 2020 with 4367 registrations. The Golf still leads the market with 14 times the new registrations, amongst them over 7000 electric cars.

            At the moment Tesla can not be considered a niche player anymore.

  27. Odd that they’d announce the car one week, plugging the Welsh & Portgugese factories, then, after MB publicly announce they have a spare factory, Ineos does an about-turn. Perhaps just a crude attempt to extort more public cash but seems like they’re still thinking it up in the back of a pub.

    The car itself has some nice ideas but it’s a bit like one of those old Excalibur Roadsters – illustrates the value of using a bona-fide auto-designer.

    Will be good if it all comes together but considering JLR, with all the badge-appeal, dealers, brand awareness, finance deals, etc. have a job shifting cars, can it be possible to go from 0-25,000 in a few years?

  28. When did this site become a venue for Remoaning political diatribes? I thought it was for car enthusiasts.

    • The site didn’t make any comment either way about the Ineos situation – and commentators are free to say whatever they want. That’s free speech. As for the expression ‘Remoaning political diatribes’, that sort of talk is soooo pre-pandemic.

  29. There are at least three comments in July sneering, or thinly veiled sneering, at Brexit supporters. That’s post pandemic to me.

    Returning to the subject of the article, although it will never affect me as I have no need for a 4×4, I’m fairly confident I’ll never buy a new car and would prefer any vehicle I bought to be built in the UK – although my last car was Belgian and I’m not sure about the current one…

    As a business, if one or more ready-made factories become available unexpectedly, surely it’s only sensible to explore the options before committing to a planned new build?

    However, I have to confess, until I read the article and comments, I hadn’t realised there were apparently suitable existing factories likely to be available now or soon anyway so the initial plan sounds a bit strange. Why build new?

    • Is that so surprising? considering Brexit is still becoming a stupider idea by the day, even without the additional body blow of Covid-19 to the economy.

      Any politicly idealogical (to read only beneficial to a clique of Billionaire tax dodgers & hucksters, not their idiotic voting fodder) move like this is going to effect the motor industry for the worse, so it’s fitting to mention it here.

  30. Ken please stop moaning about those who do like Brexit. Brexiteers have been moaning since 1975.about being in the EEC, then EU. I don’t remember people saying after the referendum in the 70s; get over it, stop moaning, you lost etc..
    I will continue to have an opinion about Brexit that is probably different to yours. However if you can provide to some reason how we will better off then please try and change my mind, I am not stuck in my ways. Name calling only strengthens ones resolve.

  31. Can we try not to make everything about Brexit, this move (or rather proposed move) could just as easily have happened without Brexit, a purpose built and presumably right sized and suitable factory suddenly becoming available is quite tempting.

    Personally I find the whole project a bit of a vanity one, but good luck to Ratcliffe if he thinks it’s viable.

  32. Indeed it could have done, just like Dyson’s move to Singapore. However they vocally supported Brexit and despite that they can be seen not very patriotic as elements of Brexit are about perceived patriotism.

    • How cringeworthy reading a presumably bunch of middle age men sniping at each other over politics on a car enthusiasts site, about things they don’t fully understand. I come on here Ror a break from the papers and enjoy the articles. For the record, remoaners, Brexit was about not being run and paying into a undemocratic, badly run plutocracy, not against Europe. Sir Jim is a business man and knows the best place to build his new toy. That’s how business works. Business is global. I thought everyone knew that from about ten years old upwards.

      • Indeed I know that about business, but I doubt Germans are equally ambivalent about German manufacturing and engineering. This site is the about ‘British’ car industry, its history and politics. My late father, Major CF Milner MC , who worked for Nuffield then BMC, would be so be so upset about Brexit and the level of double standards and ignorance. Here we have a UK company developing a vehicle in the idiom of a much loved UK designed and built legend with a German / Austrian developed and possibly French made car. It is worse than the pathetic faux patriotic Union Jack rear lamps on a MINI.
        Again leavers have to resort to name calling, remoaners, yet what are you doing moaning.
        Enjoy your Dutch made HP sauce from a US owned Kraft Heinz

        • It’s Ironic that the pseudo patriotic voting fodder moan on about the EU being a “a undemocratic, badly run plutocracy” but are more than happy for the country to be sold down the river to be suck-up state to the most corrupt American administration in living memory.

          Probably the same people who are throwing their toys out of the pram over face masks!

          So much for being great patriots if you can’t manage a simple thing like that!

          Remember if you don’t want to talk about contemporary politics here, don’t bring them up in the first place!

          • Ray Cathode – the “most corrupt American administration in living memory” is a complete novice compared with the EU. Trump won’t publish his personal accounts. The EU’s accountants have never signed off any of the EU’s accounts. If the EU was a company, that fact alone would have closed it down!

  33. Is there any evidence that the EU accounts have never been signed off?

    That seems not to have been true since 2007. Although there does seem to be some error and/or misuse of funds.

    “Claim: The European Union is so corrupt that the European Court of Auditors has not signed off its accounts for 20 years.

    Reality Check verdict: The Court of Auditors has signed the EU accounts every year since 2007, while pointing out that EU countries, once they receive the EU funds, misuse about 4.4% of the total budget.”

    Error or misuse does not necessarily mean fraud.

    “If the auditors do suspect corruption, they pass the cases to OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office. According to the latest figures provided by the Commission, fraud affects 0.2% of the EU’s annual spending. The estimated cost of fraudulent irregularities was €248m in 2013.

    For comparison, the UK National Audit Office says fraud across UK government was equivalent to only 0.02% of total expenditure: it ranged from £27.5m to £72.9m, depending on the source, from a total expenditure of £306bn.

    OLAF says it completed 3,500 investigations, which led to the recovery of more than €1.1bn for the EU budget and a total of 900 years of prison sentences since 1999. ”

    ““Our estimate of the level of error is not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste. It is an estimate of the money that should not have been paid out because it was not used in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations.”

    The most common type of error is when people claim for costs they’re ineligible for, followed by procurement errors like the one discussed above.”

    • Thanks it saves me having to do any digging to put some poor pathetic fool right. The real villains just can’t get enough of people so stupid they never realise they are under-minding their own well-being.

      Just mentioning Trump was a stupid move if you are trying to score points on anyone who’s smarter then there usual drooling sycophant.

        • @ SD67, I find petty political point scoring and name calling tedious. I think most people have had enough of Brexit name calling and would sooner discuss cars Brexit is one issue that has me switching over the television and I’m sure most people feel the same after 4 years of it.

  34. Glenn and SD67, I agree. However the Ineos project is connected to politics and Brexit, hence the discussion. It is also about UK jobs too.

  35. If Triumph can build and sell motorcycles in Britain, motorcycles which are a low priced compared to Land Rovers, and Triumph in direct competition with the masters of car and motorcycle manufacture that is Japan, then surely Ineos should be able to manufacture in the UK and not vanish abroad

    • In 2020 Triumph have moved production of their motorcycles to three factories in Thailand and one in Brazil.

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