Ineos signs deal to pro­duce ‘new world class 4x4’

The Guardian - - INSIDE | NEWS - Ru­pert Neate

Jim Rat­cliffe, the multi-bil­lion­aire chem­i­cals ty­coon and Brexit sup­porter, has handed a con­tract to cre­ate a “Bri­tish” suc­ces­sor to the Land Rover De­fender in Ger­many.

Rat­cliffe, who with an es­ti­mated £7bn for­tune is the sec­ond-rich­est per­son in Bri­tain after 27-year-old prop­erty heir Hugh Grosvenor, said on Wed­nes­day that his chem­i­cals com­pany Ineos had signed-up more than 200 Ger­man en­gi­neers to cre­ate a new “world-class 4x4”, which he first con­ceived in a pub near Buck­ing­ham Palace.

Ineos said Stuttgart-based en­gi­neer­ing firm MB-tech will “take the ini­tial de­sign con­cepts through to a fully en­gi­neered ve­hi­cle ... fol­lowed by pro­to­types” this year in Ger­many.

The com­pany said it was eval­u­at­ing a num­ber of op­tions for full-scale pro­duc­tion of the ve­hi­cle. “Our pref­er­ence is for a UK lo­ca­tion, but the choice must be about head as well as heart,” a spokesper­son said.

Rat­cliffe had said the UK was his “num­ber one” choice to base a £600m fac­tory, but only if the gov­ern­ment sub­sidised the ven­ture, which he said would cre­ate 10,000 jobs.

“It would be quite a chal­lenge to do it in the UK with­out a sub­sidy be­cause there are fa­cil­i­ties and trained work­forces [else­where],” he said last year. “So in the UK we get higher risk and higher costs. At the end of the day it has to be a prof­itable ven­ture.”

Rat­cliffe, a vo­cal sup­porter of the cam­paign for Bri­tain to leave the Euro­pean Union, had told Sun read­ers that: “Our pref­er­ence is to build it in the UK, on the eastern seaboard. We’d like to re­tain the Bri­tish­ness and have a bit of pas­sion about UK man­u­fac­tur­ing. We be­lieve that Bri­tain can pro­duce some­thing as re­li­able as Ger­many or Ja­pan if we do it well.”

Dirk Heil­mann, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ineos Au­to­mo­tive, said: “We have found a qual­ity part­ner in MB-tech who we be­lieve have the com­pe­tency, tal­ent, and fore­sight to en­able us to de­liver a high-qual­ity ve­hi­cle to the mar­ket. This deal will bring to­gether Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing and Bri­tish en­trepreneur­ship to cre­ate a truly for­mi­da­ble off-roader.”

Rat­cliffe said he came up with the idea of cre­at­ing a suc­ces­sor to the De­fender, which Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) ceased pro­duc­ing in 2016 after 68 years, over beers in the Gre­nadier pub in Bel­gravia. “It was just there at the bar,” he told the Tele­graph. “It was after the sec­ond pint.”

The Ineos chair­man and ma­jor­ity share­holder said he wanted to cre­ate a “rugged, un­com­pro­mis­ing, no frills” suc­ces­sor to the De­fender be­cause of his love for the orig­i­nal, which is also a favourite of the Queen. “When I’m on sa­fari in Africa I al­ways pre­fer to be in a Land Rover,” he said. “But I al­ways carry a pic­nic bas­ket.”

Ineos has dubbed the ve­hi­cle Pro­jekt Gre­nadier after the pub, but has asked mem­bers of the pub­lic to sug­gest a per­ma­nent brand name.

JLR, which plans to bring out a next gen­er­a­tion ver­sion of the De­fender next year, has filed trade­mark ap­pli­ca­tions to pro­tect the shape of its Land Rovers which date back to 1948.

Ineos has be­come the largest pri­vate com­pany in Bri­tain. It ex­pects to make an­nual sales of £44bn and prof­its of be­tween £3.6-4.4bn this year.

CHRIS THOMOND/GUARDIAN

▲ Pro­duc­tion of Land Rover De­fend­ers ceased in 2016

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.