The company behind the Ineos Grenadier has confirmed that it has abandoned plans to build the car in the UK, in favour of a factory in France.
Ineos Automotive had originally planned to build its Land Rover Defender-inspired off-roader at a purpose-built £600 million plant in Bridgend, Wales. However, it has now completed the purchase of an alternative site in France where construction of the car will begin in late 2021.
Ineos has bought the Hambach factory, near the French-German border, from Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler for an undisclosed sum. The plant, which currently builds the Smart EQ ForTwo was due to close but the new agreement has secured its future and around 1,300 jobs for the region. The planned site in Wales would have created around 500 jobs.
As well as building the new Grenadier, Ineos will also continue production of the two-seat all-electric Smart as part of a deal with Daimler, which had been considering moving production to China.
Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe said: "Hambach presented us with a unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce. Ineos Automotive set out a vision to build the world’s best utilitarian 4x4, and at our new home in Hambach, we will do just that.”
Previously he had said that the plan to build the Grenadier in Wales represented “a significant expression of confidence in British manufacturing, which has always been at the heart of what Ineos stands for”.
Following the announcement of the purchase, Dirk Heilmann, Ineos’s CEO, said: “This acquisition marks our biggest milestone yet in the development of the Grenadier.
“Alongside the exhaustive testing programme that our prototype vehicles are now undergoing, we can now begin preparations at Hambach to build our 4x4 from late next year for delivery to our customers around the globe.”