The multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has revealed he plans to resurrect the original 1948 Land Rover Defender.
Called the Grenadier, named after the pub the idea was conceived in two years ago, it is planned that the all new vehicles will be built at Bridgend in South Wales from 2021.
The 66 year old boss of Ineos is reported to be worth in the region of £21bn, so the £600m investment required is not likely to rattle him too much. He is known as a shrewd investor but some insiders are questioning the wisdom of building a new vehicle in an industry going through tough times.
In an effort to differentiate the Grenadier in a crowded SUV market, a spokesman said, “We’re dropping the “S” from SUV. It will be a utility vehicle. The focus will be to establish a brand around the vehicle as a working tool”. Target buyers are said to include small business owners and fleet operators not just in the UK, but in Europe, the US and Africa.
The firm is keen to push the vehicle’s British heritage. But early reports suggest large chunks of the vehicle will be far from British, to start with at least. An offshoot of Mercedes, MBTech, is said to be assisting with much of the engineering. The body & chassis will come from a plant in Portugal and BMW will supply the all-important powerplant linked to their automatic gearboxes. The final build will be at the South Wales plant, employing an estimated 500 people.
As SUV and 4×4’s sales are now driven by image and the ability to look good on the school run, most if not all traditional buyers of workhorse vehicles have migrated to pick-ups. Ineos has done its homework, as you’d expect and hopes to sell 25,000 units of the Grenadier into that market currently estimated at 175,000 units across Europe alone.
That’s what we know so far. We’ll be watching closely and we’ll bring you more news as we get it. If you’re as excited as we are about an all new British vehicle coming to market you can find us on all the usual social media platforms. #FutureClassics.