Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s hopes of having his all-new Ineos Automotive Grenadier on the road before the end of the year have been dashed, after confirming that ‘unavoidable delays’ have pushed production back to 2022.
The 4X4 is seen as the spiritual successor to the Land Rover Defender of old, providing a tough, utilitarian vehicle that’s aimed at farmers, explorers and off-road enthusiasts.
It was confirmed last year that Ratcliffe – Britain’s fifth richest man with an estimated wealth of £12.2billion – had ditched plans to build the Grenadier at a state-of-the-art new site in Wales in favour of purchasing a French factory from Mercedes.
However, production at the Hambach plant has been pushed back from the end of 2021 to next year, it has been confirmed today.
Ratcliffe’s 4X4 delayed: Production of the Ineos Automotive Grenadier, the new utilitarian vehicle from the British billionaire’s new car brand, has been pushed back to 2022
The hold-up for manufacturing was announced as Ineos said the vehicle had completed its latest round of dynamic tests – including ‘gruelling’ mountain expeditions – as part of the prototype phase.
Bosses behind the vehicle project cited ‘unavoidable delays through 2020’, with the Covid-19 pandemic restricting the scheduled ‘rigorous testing targets’ set out for Grenadier.
Dirk Heilmann, CEO of Ineos Automotive, said: ‘Reaching this important development milestone is a great step forward for the project.
‘We only have one opportunity to get this right and our quality and performance targets for the Grenadier remain paramount. We won’t cut corners.
‘After today’s very positive results we are on track to reach our targets and to allow the start of production in July next year at the latest.’
Bosses said ‘unavoidable delays through 2020’ for the testing programme of the vehicle has meant that production won’t start by the end of this year, as originally planned
Ineos Automotive – owned by British petrochemicals mogul Sir Jim Ratcliffe – will make its new 4X4 at this former Mercedes plant in France, ditching plans for a state-of-the-art factory in South Wales
Part of the agreement with Daimler will see Ineos continue making Smart EQ ForTwo models – the compact electric-powered city cars – at the facility
Dirk Heilmann, CEO of Ineos Automotive, said production will begin ‘in July next year at the latest’
The hardened 4X4 is said to have completed a ‘punishing examination of its off-road capabilities on one of the most formidable 4X4 testing grounds in the world’ – and Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been involved in the testing.
The British billionaire negotiated the notorious trails of the Schöckl mountain near Magna Steyr’s HQ in Austria, as part of an engineering gateway assessment.
He said: ‘We’ve made great strides since the very early versions of the Grenadier I drove a year ago.
‘The Schöckl is a proper challenge for any 4X4. Today was a real test for our prototypes, and they came through very well.
‘There is still work to do, but I am confident that the Grenadier will do the job we have developed it for.’
The hardened 4X4 is said to have completed a ‘punishing examination of its off-road capabilities on one of the most formidable 4X4 testing grounds in the world’
Ratcliffe himself has been getting involved with the testing process, taking to the wheel of the Grenadier in Austria
Ratcliffe said: ‘There is still work to do, but I am confident that the Grenadier will do the job we have developed it for’
Ineos Automotive says that 130 ‘second-phase’ prototype Grenadiers will accumulate 1.8 million kilometres in extreme environments around the world.
Earlier this year, engineers successfully completed extensive cold weather engine calibration with Grenadier prototypes in northern Sweden.
The next phase of the development and validation process will subject the Grenadier to intense hot weather testing in some of the world’s harshest environments, including Death Valley in the USA and the dunes of the Middle East.
Prices are expected to range from £30,000 to £45,000, with the priciest examples powered by hydrogen following a recent tie-up with Korean car maker, Hyundai, to share fuel cell technology.
The aim is to create fairly basic vehicles then offer customers a range of extras and bespoke fitments, so they can tailor their Grenadiers to their own spec.
The hold-up for manufacturing was announced as Ineos said the vehicle had completed its latest round of dynamic tests
Among these tests was a ‘gruelling’ mountain expeditions – as part of the prototype phase
How does the Ineos Grenadier compare to the new Land Rover Defender? Here’s a head-to-head checklist of their performance and statistics
Ratcliffe, a prominent Brexiteer, and his Ineos Automotive project received heavy criticism last year after confirming it had pulled the plug on plans to produce the off-road vehicle at a new site in Bridgend, South Wales.
Having drawn up plans for an all-new facility, it had promised to provide 500 new jobs in the area.
However, in December, the car maker announced it had instead completed the purchase of the Mercedes-Benz Smart car factory in Hambach, France, with the aim of production starting at the site in late 2021.
Ineos said the Hambach facility is ‘ideal’ for production of its agricultural vehicle.
Ineos Automotive had previously said it will build its new Grenadier 4X4 at a new ‘state-of-the-art’ facility in Bridgend, Wales
The South Wales plant would have created 200 new jobs initially, expanding to 500 once production ramps up
The Grenadier will be available as a conventional 4X4 and a flat-bed truck
Prices are expected to start from around £30,000, rising to £45,000 for the highest-spec models
Bosses described it as ‘one of Europe’s most modern automotive manufacturing sites’ that is home to ‘a highly experienced and capable workforce’.
The British firm said the facility has an ‘excellent track record amongst Mercedes plants for the quality of its output, and recently benefited from a major investment to enable the production of larger vehicles’.
Confirming the news last year, Sir Jim Ratcliffe said: ‘Hambach presented us with a unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce.
‘Ineos Automotive set out a vision to build the world’s best utilitarian 4×4, and at our new home in Hambach, we will do just that.’
Ineos’ plans is to sell relatively basic models then offer customers a range of additional features at cost, such as winches
Ineos Automotive says that 130 ‘second-phase’ prototype Grenadiers will accumulate 1.8 million kilometres in extreme environments around the world
Earlier this year, engineers successfully completed extensive cold weather engine calibration with Grenadier prototypes in northern Sweden
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