Australia – unsurprisingly – looks set to be a significant global market for the Ineos Grenadier 4×4, given it’s currently home to the third-largest source of reservations anywhere in the world.
Set to hit local shores in small numbers during the fourth quarter of 2022 before a supply ramp-up, the Grenadier is both a spiritual successor to the original Land Rover Defender and a contemporary rival for the Toyota LandCruiser 70.
While final pricing is not confirmed, Ineos has previously indicated a starting price for the most basic two-seat version of $84,500 plus on-road costs. The five-seater versions are expected to command a modest $1000 (ish) premium.
With final specs not announced and the factory in late stages of gearing up, Ineos says it now holds north of 15,000 reservations worldwide. It’s withholding the Australian-specific figure.
Local buyers have been able to put down an $800 refundable deposit to lock in a reservation since October 2021, putting them at the front of the queue when it comes to placing their order on the more detailed configurator going live (with pricing) in April.
Those who decide to proceed, configure and order will then be required to put down a $5000 deposit, or $4200 for those who already put down the aforementioned reservation fee.
From there, a few weeks out from their vehicle’s build slot, the sum will then be converted to non-refundable status – the rationale being that someone may configure their vehicle in a particular fashion that makes it hard to on-sell.
Ineos pledges to let customers known when their build is imminent, and when the deposit converts to non-refundable status.
The $800 “hand raisers”, who may go on to be $5000 order holders, have in some cases had a chance to get inside a Grenadier development ‘2B’ prototype, which has been making its way around Australia as part of a customer roadshow – regional locales included.
However none have been able to drive production-ready Grenadiers because they don’t exist.
Ineos counters by saying this represents a low percentage of buyers, because nearly production-ready Grenadiers will start arriving locally ahead of the brand’s full launch, and will be there for prospective customers to experience.
In other words, all bar initial order-placers will be afforded the chance to ‘meet’ the car they want to buy in some form. They just won’t get theirs from the very first batches.
Production Grenadiers are going to be built at an old Mercedes-Benz (Smart) plant in Hambach, France, since purchased by Ineos. The bespoke development vehicles were built by Magna in Austria.
The Grenadier project is the brainchild of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire engineer and chairman of multinational petrochemical giant Ineos.
The official story says that Ratcliffe was hanging out in London’s Grenadier pub in 2017, bemoaning Land Rover’s decision to kill the old Defender and replace it with the more modern and luxurious new SUV model.
Australia is considered internally to be a “core launch market” for the ladder-frame, rigid axle Grenadier alongside Europe, the U.S and South Africa, meaning locals get the sort of priority access to vehicles many brands would crave.
The old Land Rover Defender lookalike will be sold as a body-on-frame 4×4 wagon at first, with low-range gearing, multiple diff locks, retuned BMW inline-six engines, and stripped-back off-road suspension, “designed and built to handle the world’s harshest environments”.
A box-section ladder frame up 4mm thick walls is expected to feature – no monocoque here.
The Grenadier is expected to have beam axles front and rear made by Italy’s Carraro, supplier to tractor-makers John Deere and Massey Ferguson. They’ll support multi-link suspension with separate long-travel Eibach coils and ZF dampers, and panhard rods.
There’ll also be permanent 4×4 rather than part-time, a mechanical transfer case for low-range, and diff locks front, centre and rear. Payload must be at least a tonne before the road cars are signed off, and the towing capacity target is 3.5-tonnes.
Engines will be supplied by BMW. Both are 3.0-litre inline-six cylinder donks, one that runs on petrol and the other on diesel. They’re codenamed B57 and B58 if you want to head to Wikipedia for more.
Both will be linked up to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission as the sole choice – a key difference from the manual-only LandCruiser 70 and old Defender.
Ineos Automotive Australia Pty Ltd will be a factory-backed operation rather than an independent licensed distributor.
The company has appointed well-known auto executive Justin Hocevar to head up its Asia-Pacific operations. Mr Hocevar previously ran Mini Australia and Renault Australia, and was a senior executive at Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Motorrad.
It will establish a network of franchise dealers and service centres, but use an agency model – meaning it will own all its new and demo stock until the customer takes delivery, which means set prices and access to national inventory from anywhere.
The company is expected to launch in Australia/NZ with about with 36 agents, scattered in all capitals alongside a numerous regional centres. By the end of year three the goal is to cover a claimed 98 per cent of the market.
Ineos has also cut a deal with various Bosch Service Centres in remote areas. These mechanics will get training and the same access to parts and data as an official Ineos agent in bigger population centres.
On the parts front, those who wish to work on their own vehicles will also be able to get technical support from Ineos HQ, and access to online interactive 3D workshop manuals and parts catalogues.
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