Following the completion of a six-month feasibility study, global chemical company INEOS confirmed that it will go ahead and build a brand new “uncompromising” 4 x 4 off-roader. Although INEOS is one of the largest manufacturers in the world, it will be the first time that INEOS has produced such a vehicle. INEOS sees a gap in the market for such a vehicle following JLR’s decision to cease production of the Land Rover Defender.
The company expects to spend many hundreds of millions on the project and is determined that the vehicle will not only fill a gap in the market vacated by the Defender but also provide a step change improvement in build quality and reliability. Identification of a suitable manufacturing location will be a part of the next phase of the project and the company will look at UK sites alongside other European options.
The project is to be run by Dirk Heilmann, formerly head of Engineering and Technology at INEOS. Dirk, now CEO of INEOS Automotive has already started recruiting a team of automotive experts. “This is an amazing project for everyone involved. Our job is to create the world’s best 4 x 4 and we are already moving forward with our plans,” he said.
The project is the brainchild of INEOS Chairman, Jim Ratcliffe, who was a fan of the original Land Rover Defender. When it ceased production, Ratcliffe saw a gap in the market for an uncompromising off-roader that stood for adventure and active driving but also had the capability to be a work and utility machine.
The vehicle will not be a replica of the Defender but will reflect its philosophy. The target market is global and includes agriculture and forestry workers, explorers and adventurers as well as traditional Defender fans that simply enjoy an authentic 4 x 4 driving experience.
INEOS is determined that its new vehicle will offer a real and pure alternative to the current crop of standardized ‘jelly-mould’ SUV’s.
I am a great admirer of the old Land Rover Defender and have enormous respect for its off road capability, and our new 4 x4 has been inspired by it. But whilst our off-roader might share its spirit, our new car will be a major improvement on previous models.—Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman
INEOS is a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products. It comprises 18 businesses each with a major chemical company heritage. Its production network spans 67 sites in 16 countries throughout the world. Annual sales are around $40 billion.