A new ‘uncompromising’ 4×4 inspired by the Land Rover Defender is to be built at Bridgend in Wales.
Ineos Automotive confirmed that production of the Grenadier will being in 2021 at a brand-new manufacturing facility.
The bespoke manufacturing and assembly plant will be built close to the current Ford factory, which is due to close in 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
Ineos says that its new facility will initially create 200 jobs, which is expected to rise to 500 in the long term as it aims to reach production of 25,000 vehicles a year.
It is also creating a sub-assembly plant in Estarreja, Portugal which will produce the Grenadier’s body and chassis.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of the Ineos chemicals group and Ineos Automotive, commented: “We have looked long and hard at possible manufacturing locations for Grenadier across the world with lots of good options to choose from. The decision to build in the UK is a significant expression of confidence in British manufacturing, which has always been at the heart of what Ineos stands for.”
Welsh Government economy and transport minister Ken Skates said: “Today’s announcement is great news for Wales and I’m delighted Ineos Automotive will be setting up home in Bridgend which has a long history of skilled manufacturing expertise. 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 Automotive was launched in 2017 to create a new vehicle designed to fill the gap created when Land Rover ceased production of the Defender.
The Grenadier project’s stated aim is to build a stripped back, utilitarian 4×4 inspired by the original Defender and engineered to operate as a “no-frills” hard-working tool.
The latest announcement comes just after Land Rover launched an all-new high-tech and more luxurious version of the Defender at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Details of the Grenadier’s design and construction are still to be announced but Ineos Automotive has confirmed that it will be built on a ladder frame chassis with beam axles, feature permanent four-wheel-drive with a low-range transfer box and lockable differentials. It will be powered by an engine from BMW calibrated for off-road use and will be able to hold a Euro pallet and town 3.5 tonnes.
The Ineos plant is the latest automotive operation to move to Wales, following Aston Martin’s decision to build its DBX SUV and two new Lagonda models at a new facility in St Athans, also close to Bridgend.
The country is also home to start-up Riversimple which is developing the Rasa hydrogen fuel cell car at its base in Llandrindod Wells.