When Land Rover stopped using the standard Defender in 2017 after 67 years, wealthy British businessman Sir Jim Ratcliffe decided to promote his own successor. That became this Ineos Grenadier. The factory in France is now ready for the production of the series, but should we take this new off-road vehicle seriously or is it a hilarious billionaire hobby project?
At first glance, Ineos Grenadier seems to be the beloved child of the classic Mercedes-Benz G-Class and the old Land Rover Defender. But he is not: this is also a difficult off-road vehicle, but otherwise not related to those other models. In recent years, a new British car brand has created Grenadier itself, where other popular and off-road vehicles (consider the Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler, for example) would be a source of further inspiration, according to Ineos.
However, it is not a coincidence that the appearance exactly resembles the original Defender. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chief executive of the British chemical company Ineos, is a big fan of the famous and popular model. When the richest Englishman (Ratcliffe is reported to have a fortune of nearly twenty billion euros) heard in 2017 that Land Rover wanted to pull the plug on the Defender after 67 years, he tried to buy a production line to prevent the car from coming out. production. The parent company Jaguar Land Rover rejected the offer, after which Sir Jim decided to build his ‘spiritual successor’.
Land Rover was not pleased with that, by the way: the brand even filed a lawsuit against Ineos to prevent the arrival of Grenadier. The car would have been very similar to the Defender, but the judge did not agree. So Grenadier can only be built and the first production model of Ineos Automotive is now in its final stages of development. Within the current and a few months, the first units ready for production must leave the production line.
This will take place in Hambach, near the border between France and Germany, in the same factory where the Electronic Smart is shut down on the production route. Ineos has reportedly bought a large site with an area of no less than 82 hectares, known as ‘Smartville’, from car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz.
And that when Mercedes had transformed a modern factory by no less than 470 million euros to be able to offer a new EQB. Because the production was transferred to China at the last minute, the potential was found in Hambach and Ineos will make good use of this appreciation for a vibrant offer. The British company claims to have spent 50 million euros for additional repairs, but more than 250 new robots had already been installed at the expense of Mercedes, a new metal garage appeared, the factory was given a new paint line by Ineos can. immediately have high quality control control. A beginner car manufacturer could not aspire to the best.
In the new factory halls – totaling approximately 210,000 square meters covered – the connection with Smart is still visible in many areas: the well-known brand name is on many posters, new Fortwo parts are already in different barrels and factory. workers are still walking around wearing Smart dust jackets. That’s not surprising: the current generation of two electric seats will be released here until at least 2024. And Ineos, on behalf of Mercedes-Benz. In 2021, the crew still connected more than 27,000 Smarts, and later this year the same people will start working with Ineos Grenadier.
“There is a lot of knowledge and expertise here,” explains President and CEO Philippe Steyer during his grand visit. “The average age of our people is about 45 years and the quality of their work is very high. We work at a very high level and of course we will do the same for Grenadier. The car must be of the highest quality.” Or, as founder Jim Ratcliffe put it in the video accordingly: “We will design the car in style with the Land Rover Defender class, but with the famous technical integrity of the Toyota Land Cruiser.” In other words: according to its inventor, Grenadier will not leak oil, draft and show as few electronic malfunctions as possible.
the eagle’s eye
That Ineos does not care about the mission is reflected in the ‘quality control room’ shining a little further. Five technicians discuss on small open computers, two hands of a laser robot playing smoothly and with high accuracy near Grenadi’s open body. In other words, ‘body in white’, in the automotive factory jargon. “We call this device our eagle eye sensor, because it can detect the smallest defect in a hawk’s eye,” explains Ineos’ director of quality management Stephan Bruhnke with restrained arrogance. This is not a difficult device.
Bruhnke also moved from a large Mercedes-Benz to help fulfill the dream of a small Ineos. Everything in his work involves continuous analysis and reduction of error: ,, In more than four hours, sensors check measurements and fit of body parts by looking at around 4000 measuring points. In this way we know that every Ineos Grenadier produced meets the same strict requirements. Here, too, you see the latest technology and the highest level of quality in the workplace, and so does Mercedes-Benz. ” The modern equipment and enthusiasm of the staff give the impression that Ineos has long surpassed the level of hobby project. “It’s simple: we don’t leave anything out of luck,” concludes Bruhnke.
Ineos is currently working on the latest group of Grenadier models; The 130 units will be used to mark the i and cross t so that the ready-made illustrations can reach customers later this year without any problems. According to Ineos, more than 15,000 interested characters have already registered. Currently, they can choose from a 4.92-meter ‘Five Wagon’ station with five seats, a two-seater commercial vehicle (‘Utility’) and a two-cabin pick-up with open body. Ineos still does not indicate whether the shortest or longest variant is in the pipeline. However, there is the option of a modern six-cylinder engine of gasoline or diesel from BMW shelves, which is connected as usual to an eight-speed automatic transmission and has a ‘transfer box’ that can be adjusted for driving in rough terrain. After all, that is what Grenadier intended, despite modern amenities such as heated seats, parking sensors and a rear view camera.
Whoever you talk to in the Ineos column, one thing is clear: Grenadier should please the most demanding customers. In the words of Donna Falconer, who specializes in branding strategy around the world: ,, We do not make garbage cheaply. Grenadier will be a car that our customers buy mainly because of their passion for driving off the road or because they need a reliable horse. Consider, for example, emergency services in remote areas: for that purpose they must be very strong and durable, but it must also be a car that you have stored in your family for decades because you love it so much.
Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe sums up his idea beautifully: “This car is a device as well as a toy.” So both tools and toys. ,, It will be useful to pull a plow without difficulty on your farm or to accompany a rescue mission in Africa, but it should also put a big smile on your face when you spend the afternoon playing outside with your friends in a muddy area. A car that you can do a little wrong if you feel like that. The world needs it too. “You will soon read on this site how Grenadier holds in such a challenging environment.
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