All-new UK-built 4x4 planned
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.