Ineos Automotive’s worldwide testing-in-plain-site program has officially kicked off in Australia, where early interest and buyer demand has been higher than expected.
The company this week put out some new images of one of its ‘2B’ late-stage prototypes in this neck of the woods. As reported here, the test vehicle landed at Melbourne airport in September.
Its lot in life is to go through hot weather and durability testing, “helping ensure the final Grenadier product is fully fit to cope with the stresses of the Australian environment and demands of the local buyer,” according to the brand.
It also says “key learnings” will be reported back to European product development teams “for ongoing product enhancements”.
This testing forms part of a wider 1.8-million-kilometre development program.
The 2B prototype is also here for promotional duties, of course. Reservation holders will get an opportunity “to see and experience” the Grenadier as it tours around the country, Ineos says.
Interestingly, Ineos says the first reservation holder globally is located right here in Australia. The company says it has been taken aback by the degree of local interest for its LandCruiser 70 and old Defender rival.
As detailed further here, the Ineos Grenadier will arrive here in the second half of 2022 a few months after the start of production in France (right next to the German border) priced from $84,500 before on-road costs in two-seat form.
It’s our strong understanding that the five-seat version – of which the 2B prototype is one – will only cost about $1000 more.
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.
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 with about with 16 dealers, scattered in all capitals alongside a few regional centres. By the end of year three the goal is to more than double this and cover 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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