The Ineos Grenadier body-on-frame 4×4 wagon will definitely be joined by a dual-cab ute spinoff in Australia.
And while we don’t have a definitive time frame for it, Ineos Automotive Asia Pacific chief Justin Hocevar cryptically told us this week that “you won’t have to wait too long”.
As you can read in yesterday’s deep-dive, the France-built Grenadier wagon/SUV will launch globally (Australia included) from 2022 through a direct-to-consumer business model supported by modest brand stores.
The company is targeting an $84,500 starting price for its ground-up, ladder-frame spiritual successor the the original Land Rover Defender, and contemporary competitor to the Jeep Wrangler five-door, Toyota LandCruiser 70, and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.
We don’t know a heap about the ute version beyond some digital images supplied by the brand, but Ineos has said it’s targeting a class-topping GCM which would point to a generous payload potential.
Dual-cab 4×4 utes are a dominant vehicle type in Australia, with the off-road pickup market accounting for something like 20 per cent of total sales each month.
With its focus on overland adventurers, regional workers and contractors, 4×4 enthusiasts, and work fleets, Ineos hopes to scoop up disaffected owners who’ve found themselves short on options.
While we couldn’t speculate too much without risking missing the mark, it’s reasonable to think the 2023 Ineos Grenadier pickup would make an interesting competitor to the LandCruiser 70 five-door cab chassis, Jeep Gladiator, and even left-of-centre options like the Ram 1500.
“We think we can take a modest slice of the pie, we aren’t chasing volume,” was all Mr Hocevar would add on sales targets.
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.
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, stripped-back 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.
For these remote wanderers, 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.
The company’s chief engineer says about 100 ‘2B’ prototypes are being put through their paces across 15 countries (including Australia) with extreme weather. The ultimate goal is 1.5 million on-road and 300,000 off-road testing kilometres before sign-off.
“We didn’t take some sort of procurement-led, cost-down focus on sourcing the lowest cost widget from around the globe. We went best in class to get the best solution possible,” said Mr Hocevar.