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Will INEOS 4x4 Be Better Than the Defender

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Posted On: Jul 19, 2017 By: Dave Bobeck Category: Land Rover News

A quick update on the INEOS 4x4, announced earlier this year by Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire chairman and founder of INEOS, a giant chemical company based in the UK. The company says that it is beginning its search for a manufacturing site. Ratcliffe, a supporter of the UK Brexit, said that he would not rule out building the vehicles outside of the UK. The company would like to build the vehicles in the UK but also said, “our hearts cannot be allowed to rule our heads”.

The INEOS 4x4 will be built by INEOS Automotive. Ratcliffe is a big fan of the Defender, and now famously offered to buy the rights to build his own Defenders in order to keep the iconic vehicle alive.

 

INEOS Ratcliffe and Defender

Land Rover replied with a resounding “NO” to Ratcliffe's proposal and admonished him, and anyone else who would dare besmirch or confound the Defender trademark, not to trade on their name and brand.

Ratcliffe has insisted that INEOS will indeed move forward and that the 4x4 will be its own design, that will provide a similar capability as the old Defender, without all of the usual shortcomings of the original.

“I was a great admirer of the old Land Rover Defender and had enormous respect for its off-road capability,” said INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe. “Our new 4x4 may have been inspired by it and might share its spirit, but it will not be a replica. It will be a major improvement on previous models.”

To make sure everyone knows he is serious, Ratcliffe also announced that INEOS Automotive has begun hiring, taking on Dirk Heilmann, formerly head of Engineering and Technology at INEOS, as Chief Executive.

Ineos has begun its search for a location capable of producing at least 25,000 cars a year, saying it had received “a number of offers from European sites”.

Director Tom Crotty said financial support from the UK government, with whom there have been early discussions, would be crucial in keeping the project in Britain.

“We are going into a brand new environment here in making and selling a car. We are pretty confident we are going to do it really well, but there is a risk.”

“Anything that bridges that risk gap is going to sway us towards the UK manufacturing option, and we are being honest and open with the government in saying that.”

“If we could make this in the UK then that would be great,” he said. “It is not essential, and it is not the be-all and end-all, but our preference remains to have a UK manufacturing base.”

“We are going into a brand new environment here in making and selling a car. We are pretty confident we are going to do it really well, but there is a risk.”

“Anything that bridges that risk gap is going to sway us towards the UK manufacturing option, and we are being honest and open with the government in saying that.”

Current estimates are that the 4x4, called Projekt Grenadier - will cost around £700m, to develop. The aim is to have the vehicle available for sale by the end of 2020. INEOS estimates that up to 80 percent of the cars will be exported, and that the project would directly employ more than 1,000 people.

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