Ineos, the emerging maker of rugged 4x4s responsible for the Grenadier, says it is looking towards a smaller, off-road capable, battery-electric SUV for its next model.
The unnamed project EV will be aimed at both urban and rural buyers, as the company acknowledges it must “embrace the future”.
“What we’re also looking at quite carefully at the moment is a smaller version of the Grenadier [that’s] electric,” confirmed company founder and chief Jim Ratcliffe in a publicity video.
“We need to embrace the future which clearly in an urban environment is going to be electric, but even in a country environment, when you’re a farmer you probably will have an electric car which you can drive around on tracks and things like that.
“You want one that’s capable but electric,” he mused.
Precious little else is known publicly at this stage, but it would enter a market niche should it deliver as proposed.
Ineos is a multinational chemicals company that has branched out into automotive at the direction of Sir Ratcliffe – a fan of previous-generation Series Land Rovers and Defenders.
The resultant Grenadier, which arrives in Australia at the end of 2022 and has already drawn a solid order bank according to the company, is a modernised take on these vehicles, and could potentially pinch some sales from the dominant Toyota LandCruiser 70.
While Ineos says it will look to an EV drivetrain for its next model, the inevitable emissions-reducing Grenadier spinoff will in all probability use a Hyundai hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain.
“I think the Grenadier is perfect for a hydrogen engine in time,” Ratcliffe added.
“… Electric cars are ideal for city centres and short journeys. But hydrogen is much better for longer journeys and heavier loads and that requires immediate investment in hydrogen distribution and hydrogen filling stations,” he previously said.
The Ineos Automotive division has an advantage, because its parent company is a massive chemicals company already involved in isolating and storing hydrogen as a fuel source.
The official story says 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.
Ineos Automotive Australia will be a factory-backed operation rather than an independent licensed distributor, with Australia considered an important launch market with a large audience of “hand-raising” workers and recreation lovers lining up and engaging already.
Ineos Automotive delivered on its promised $84,500 (before on-road costs) price point for the Grenadier. It also kept its promises to charge a $1000 premium for the five-seat Station Wagon over the two-seater Utility Wagon, and to assist owners who prefer DIY maintenance.
There will be three spec levels: the base entry point, more hardcore Trailmaster, and more luxurious Fieldmaster. There’s also an options and accessories list as long as your arm.
Order books opened May 18, with Australia currently a top-three global market for reservation holders.
The company will support the launch of its rugged 4×4 in Australia with 28 retail sites, many of which will fittingly be based in areas beyond the city limits. Among the launch partners are dealer groups, but also 4×4 specialists and even agricultural equipment dealers.
The company appointed Justin Hocevar to head up its Asia-Pacific operations, who previously ran Mini Australia and Renault Australia, and was a senior executive at Jaguar Land Rover and BMW Motorrad.
Production Grenadiers are going to be built at an old 210,000 square-metre Mercedes-Benz (Smart) plant in Hambach, France, since purchased by Ineos. Since 2019 the plant has received a claimed $770 million AUD in upgrades, funded by both Mercedes-Benz and Ineos.
The bespoke development vehicles were built by Magna in Austria, and underwent a widely covered and public torture-testing program.
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