Off-road startup Ineos, which launches its Grenadier in 2022, says it wants to work with aftermarket 4×4 companies and independent mechanics rather than compete against them.
It bills its “open source” approach, without trying to “ring fence” buyers into its own ecosystem, as a point-of-difference for enthusiasts and those needing a real off-road work vehicle.
For example the company has cannily cut a worldwide deal with Bosch Service Centres – in our market those in remote areas of Australia, hundreds of kilometres from an Ineos dealer.
It says it’ll support other 4×4 mechanics with training, parts and data if they’re a good fit, citing remote towns like Karratha or Port Hedland as hypothetical examples where it might apply.
This helps partly allay one issue: how does a new 4×4 brand compete with Toyota’s vast rural service network, given the Grenadier was not designed to stay within city limits?
Under the model, the independent mechanic chain will get training from Ineos and the same access to parts and data as an official Ineos dealer/agent in more populated areas would.
The company will also augment its own accessories catalogue with aftermarket parts if they’re better, and is open to sending CAD data and even prototypes to reputable companies such as an ARB and TJM.
In exchange it would request to stock these components at its own branded stores, in a “brand agnostic” fashion, without stopping the companies from also selling the add-ons themselves.
And finally 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 its own interactive 3D workshop manuals and parts catalogues with shopping carts.
“We’ve got a key point of difference from most traditional OEMs in this regard,” contended Ineos Asia Pacific head Justin Hocevar in conversation with CarExpert this week.
“Rather than trying to wrap our arms around it and protect just our own accessory business – we’ve got a dedicated range of accessories that are really well into development, including some really specific items– we also recognise the various use cases that our customers have.
“They have very specific needs and also they’ve got known and trusted brands that they want to work with. We’re not going to try to swim against that… I think what you’ll see is [in showrooms] a range of our accessories, and a range from some partners that we’ve worked with early on.
“We’ll go to them for specific things and say ‘okay, you need access to an early prototype vehicle and CAD, we’ll give you access to that stuff’. And what we would like them to do in return is to make sure that our agents have got access to that.
“… We want to be open source. We’ve listened to customers. We know that when OEMs ring-fence things and try to protect their own commercial interests, it often flies in the face of what a customer wants.”
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.
Production commences in France – at a former Daimler/Smart plant – in the third quarter of 2022 and first deliveries to Aussie customers are expected to arrive a few months later, before the end of next year.
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.
The company’s new Australian operation told us this week of an “indicative” entry price of $84,500 before on-road costs for the base variant, with two more highly equipped grades expected to sit above it.
This entry RRP will apply to both petrol and diesel models, each covered by an unlimited mileage five-year warranty.
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 test stock until the customer takes delivery.
Standard fare will include retuned BMW inline-six engines, off-road suspension, and a box-section ladder frame.
There’s expected to be 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 3.5t.
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.