Ineos confirms Grenadier 4x4 will move to France, not Wales
Image credit: Ineos Automotive
Ineos Automotive has announced that its new 4x4 cars will be manufactured in Hambach, near the border between France and Germany, rather than at a new plant in Wales as previously planned.
The Ineos Grenadier was conceived by Ineos chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe as the “spiritual successor” to the Land Rover Defender. Ineos plans to eventually integrate Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell technology into the Grenadier.
In September 2019, it was announced that the Grenadier would be built at a brand-new facility in Bridgend, Wales. A new sub-assembly plant in Portugal would produce the body and chassis. Production at the Bridgend plant was due to begin in December 2021, initially creating 200 jobs. This would rise to 500 jobs once the vehicle reached full production.
In July, Ineos Automotive began hinting that plans for the Bridgend plant could change due to the Covid-19 pandemic opening up new opportunities regarding existing manufacturing capacity.
Now, the company has confirmed that the new 4x4 will be built at the former Mercedes-Benz Hambach factory in France, following a deal with Daimler. Ineos Automotive said that the factory is “well located for access to markets, suppliers and automotive talent.” Around 1,300 jobs will be created as a result of the move.
Dirk Heilmann, CEO of Ineos Automotive, said that the acquisition of the Hambach site marks the “biggest milestone yet” in the development of the Grenadier.
Sir Jim, a prominent Brexit backer, commented: “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.”
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore in Bridgend, wrote on Twitter: “The highly skilled and dedicated workforce in Ogmore, Bridgend, and surrounding areas would have risen to the challenge. Today’s news is a hammer blow.
“That Brexit is clearly a major factor at play is a bitter pill to swallow. Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe was a vocal Brexiteer, loudly proclaiming the benefits of leaving the EU. Today, we can see his claims are as hollow as his promises.”
Ineos moving Grenadier production to continental Europe is the second major blow for Bridgend. The Grenadier facility was to be built next to the now-closed Ford engine plant, which Ford shuttered in September with the loss of almost 1,700 jobs.
The automotive industry has repeatedly warned of the impacts of a hard Brexit on car exports. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders recently published analysis estimating that the UK automotive industry risks losing £55bn in manufacturing value within five years in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to new tariffs making large parts of the UK industry unviable.
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