Rumor has it that Ineos Automotive's Projekt Grenadier could be unveiled next October. Expedition Portal reports the company's moved to the next waypoint in car production, choosing a greenfield site in Bridgend, Wales, for its UK assembly plant. The facility is a hop away from Ford's Bridgend engine assembly facility, which will close next year and send 1,700 workers on the hunt for new jobs; that's the Ford plant in the upper left corner of the rendering. However, Ineos' move to Wales puts the company in league with Aston Martin and TWR as Welsh residents. Ineos will initially start with 200 workers when production begins in 2021, hoping to grow to 500 workers by 2023, producing a targeted 25,000 units per year. And after a poll on the Projekt Grenadier site, the truck has an official name: Grenadier. The name comes from the pub in London's Knightsbridge neighborhood, around the corner from Ineos' headquarters, where CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe first got the idea for the truck.
We emphasize the word "truck." The company says, “We want to build the world’s purest 4X4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe,” marketing director Tom Crotty explaining, "We are going to take the S out of SUV."
The ground's been leveled and roads laid out already at the Wales site. The plant will assemble components sent to the UK from Continental Europe. Part of Ineos' £600 million (U.S. $746M) investment will help build a facility in Estarreja, Portugal, that will produce the chassis and body and do the paint work. Then those parts, along with BMW engines built in Austria, will be sent to Wales.
We have a few more details on what's to come. An exterior design "making a virtue of boxiness" has been locked in for a "mostly aluminum" body with short overhangs resting on a ladder-frame chassis. Magna International's working on chassis development. The coil-sprung suspension works solid axles front and rear, tuning handled by AKKA, an engineering consulting firm that was formerly the Mercedes-Benz division MBtech. Off-road development takes place in Austria, perhaps on some of the same trails where the analog kit underneath G-Class gets tested. A two-speed transfer case and locking differentials are Grenadier givens.
Two BMW 3.0-liter straight-six engines will come at launch, one gas and one diesel, tuned to serve the Grenadier's use case. Ineos is focused on a reliability and repairability in the field, essentials given that Africa and Australia are on the global markets list. Pistonheads asked Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann if owners would be able to "fix it by the side of the road with a hammer?" Heilmann responded, "A 21st-century hammer," then added, "But if it doesn't break, you don't have to fix it."
There will likely only be an automatic transmission, likely a ZF eight-speed that BMW engines are already familiar with. The engines will power at least two factory variants in two wheelbase lengths, an enclosed bodystyle and a pickup, with an expected 2,000-pound payload rating and a 7,716-pound (3,500 kilograms) tow rating.
The interior hasn't been finalized, but think old-school fundamentals with new-school tweaks. The infotainment system comes from BMW. The European market mandates certain driver assistance systems by 2022, and the U.S. mandates reversing cameras, so expect those, as well as Bluetooth and USB ports. Even with that, we're told the owners will still be able to hose off the floor "and other parts."
The company says its ideal customer currently drives a kitted-out double-cab pickup like the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, which costs almost £29,000 in the UK, and the firm wants to price the Grenadier within 15 percent of that. That doesn't sound like a utilitarian buyer to us, but we'll put the pieces together next October. Preparing for the challenge of convincing truck buyers to take a swing at a brand-new automaker, Ineos says it wants to get sales outlets as close to the customer as possible. Commercial director Mark Tennant said, "We won’t be selling cars in London’s Westfield shopping centre the way Tesla does, but we might find ourselves selling our vehicles in a field."