All-new UK-built 4x4 planned

NZ4WD - - NEWS -

Wealthy UK in­dus­tri­al­ist – and keen 4x4 user – Jim Rat­cliffe, Chair­man of chem­i­cal gi­ant Ineos, has con­firmed his widely ru­moured in­ten­tion to build an all-new ‘un­com­pro­mis­ing’ off-roader to take the place of Land Rover’s re­cently dis­con­tin­ued De­fender.

Rat­cliffe – and his fel­low ex­ec­u­tives at Ineos – be­lieve that there is now a gap in the mar­ket for a hard-core off-road ca­pa­ble 4x4 fol­low­ing JLR’s de­ci­sion to cease pro­duc­tion of the Land Rover De­fender and the chair­man says it is pre­pared to in­vest “many hun­dreds of mil­lions” of pounds pro­duc­ing such a ve­hi­cle – hope­fully – in the UK.

“This is a fan­tas­ti­cally ex­cit­ing project,” says Rat­cliffe. “We want to build the world’s purest 4x4 and are aim­ing it at ex­plor­ers, farm­ers and off-road en­thu­si­asts across the globe.”

Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of a six month fea­si­bil­ity study, Ineos con­firmed in Fe­bru­ary that it would go ahead and build a new 4 x 4 off-roader.

Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a suit­able man­u­fac­tur­ing lo­ca­tion will be a part of the next phase of the project and the com­pany will look at UK sites along­side other Euro­pean op­tions.

The project is to be run by Dirk Heil­mann, for­merly head of En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy at Ineos. Heil­mann is now CEO of Ineos Au­to­mo­tive and has al­ready started re­cruit­ing a team of au­to­mo­tive ex­perts.

“This is an amaz­ing project for ev­ery­one in­volved,” he told NZ4WD. “Our job is to cre­ate the world’s best 4 x 4 and we are al­ready mov­ing for­ward with our plans.”

Ineos is a global man­u­fac­turer of petro­chem­i­cals, spe­cial­ity chem­i­cals and oil prod­ucts. It com­prises 18 busi­nesses each with a ma­jor chem­i­cal com­pany heritage. Its pro­duc­tion net­work spans 67 sites in 16 coun­tries through­out the world.

Com­pany chair­man Jim Rat­cliffe says he was a fan of the orig­i­nal Land Rover De­fender and when pro­duc­tion stopped he saw a gap in the mar­ket for a true off-road ca­pa­ble 4x4 that stood for ad­ven­ture and ac­tive driv­ing but also had the ca­pa­bil­ity to be a work and util­ity ma­chine.

He says that ‘ his’ ve­hi­cle will not be a replica of the De­fender but will re­flect its phi­los­o­phy.

The tar­get mar­ket is global and in­cludes agri­cul­ture and forestry work­ers, ex­plor­ers and ad­ven­tur­ers as well as tra­di­tional De­fender fans who sim­ply en­joy an authen­tic 4 x 4 driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Our off-roader might share its ( the De­fender’s) spirit, but it will be a ma­jor im­prove­ment on pre­vi­ous mod­els,” he con­cluded.

No time­frame has – pub­licly – has been men­tioned yet but a work­ing pro­to­type is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional within 18 months.

Ineos 4x4 ex­pected to take up where Land Rover De­fender left off.

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