Gre­nadier looks set for France as Rat­cliffe bids for Daim­ler fac­tory

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Alan Tovey

HOPES that bil­lion­aire Sir Jim Rat­cliffe’s new Gre­nadier 4x4 car could be built in the UK are fad­ing af­ter his com­pany Ineos made a for­mal of­fer to buy a fac­tory in France.

The ty­coon is plan­ning to take over the plant in Ham­bach, north-east France, from Mercedes-Benz owner Daim­ler – spark­ing fears that his plans to make a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the Land Rover De­fender in Wales are now ef­fec­tively dead.

It came as fel­low car­maker BMW an­nounced plans to axe 400 jobs at its Ox­ford plant that makes the Mini. Sir Jim had pre­vi­ously talked about build­ing the Gre­nadier in the UK if it was eco­nom­i­cally sen­si­ble to do so, and had re­vealed plans for a ve­hi­cle assem­bly plant in South Wales that would cre­ate 500 jobs. The Welsh gov­ern­ment had be­gun clear­ing land at Brid­gend for the fa­cil­ity.

An­other sub-assem­bly fac­tory was planned for Por­tu­gal, of­fer­ing about the same num­ber of jobs.

But it emerged last month that Ineos – which has in­vested about £1bn into the Gre­nadier – was in talks with Daim­ler about tak­ing charge of the fac­tory near the bor­der with Ger­many. The site cur­rently makes Smart Cars. Sir Jim’s com­pany said talks were trig­gered by Covid-19 as ri­val car­mak­ers are forced to cut back fol­low­ing a col­lapse in sales. The Ger­man au­to­mo­tive busi­ness put Ham­bach up for sale in late June.

Ineos is con­fi­dent that fi­nal terms will be agreed for the plant, which has an ex­pe­ri­enced work­force. A sale will de­pend on talks with unions.

In a sep­a­rate blow to Bri­tain’s car in­dus­try, BMW said that it is cut­ting 10pc of the 4,000-strong work­force at its Ox­ford Mini plant. The Cow­ley Road site will lose 400 of 950 agency staff em­ployed through Gi Group as it moves from a three-shift-per-day work­ing pat­tern to two in Oc­to­ber.

This change will cut daily out­put at the plant by up to a fifth from cur­rent lev­els of about 1,000 cars. Last year the plant built 222,340 Mi­nis, ac­count­ing for the vast ma­jor­ity of pro­duc­tion.

Lower pro­duc­tion lev­els will also hit BMW’s other UK sites that pro­vide en­gines and parts to the Ox­ford fac­tory, along with other fac­to­ries around the world run by the Ger­man com­pany.

About 100 jobs will be cut from the 1,200-strong work­force at the firm’s Hams Hall en­gine plant near Birm­ing­ham, along with all 20 agency roles at its Swin­don press­ings plant.

It has also emerged that Jaguar Land Rover will shift pro­duc­tion of its petrol V8 en­gine, which is cur­rently sub­con­tracted to Ford. Ford has been pro­duc­ing the en­gine – used in Jaguar F-Types and Range Rovers – at a Brid­gend plant sched­uled to close in Sep­tem­ber.

Work will be moved to JLR’s Wolver­hamp­ton en­gine plant. Ford has in­creased out­put of the en­gine to build a stock­pile for JLR to use un­til it re­sumes build­ing in-house.

Sir Jim Rat­cliffe, the Ineos boss, had plans to build the 4x4, a suc­ces­sor to the Land Rover De­fender, in South Wales

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