German engineering company MBtech, which is part-owned via Mercedes-Benz, has signed a deal with Ineos Automotive to engineer its Land Rover Defender-inspired Projekt Grenadier SUV.
The technical tie-up will contain MBtech allocating 200 full-time engineers to the undertaking from its Stuttgart base. According to Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann, the deal will: “bring together German engineering and British design and entrepreneurship”.
Projekt Grenadier will produce a rugged SUV that is in the spirit of – however no longer diretly associated with – the unique Defender.
Ineos Automotive, the auto emblem established via Jim Ratcliffe, CEO and founding father of multinational chemical substances corporate Ineos, intends to expose early sketches of the auto later this yr. It is aiming to finalise the auto’s specs via mid-2018, with MBtech generating the primary “mule vehicles” quickly after, with right kind prototypes following later this yr. MBtech shall be tasked with “working up” the precise specs of the car to be sure that this is a “truly rugged, reliable and uncompromising 4×4.”
Ineos Automotive’s plans for the Grenadier to enter right kind manufacturing subsequent yr, with completed automobiles at the roads in 2020.
MBtech was once based in 1995 as Mercedes-Benz Technologies, even if the auto massive bought a 65% percentage of the company to AKKA Technologies in 2012. MBtech continues to paintings on more than one tasks for Mercedes-Benz, and likewise works with different automotive corporations. Under the deal with Ineos, it’ll take the lead on total car construction of the Grenadier, overseeing all elements.
Ineos grew to become over £43 billion in 2017, creating a £three.eight billion benefit. It has plans to speculate round £700 million in a delegated website online for Projekt Grenadier. Prior to the announcement of the MBtech deal – which handiest mentions manufacturing of the take a look at mules and protoypes – an Ineos spokesman instructed Autocar that a press release for the place manufacturing will happen is due later this yr.
The corporate has previouly mentioned that it is open to quite a few conceivable answers; it might percentage a facility with any other corporate, convert a used plant or construct a new one. “We’d originally said our desire is to build it in the UK, and that remains the case,” Ineos director Tom Crotty instructed Autocar ultimate yr. But the corporate has additionally won quite a few gives from European websites.
Ineos continues to be prepared to start out manufacturing in the United Kingdom, in spite of uncertainty over the car trade in the rustic following the Brexit vote.
“We’ve gone into this decision with eyes wide open,” Crotty mentioned when requested about Brexit’s have an effect on. “It in point of fact doesn’t have an have an effect on. We suppose it is a undertaking for the United Kingdom that might be massively really helpful post-Brexit as a result of we might be exporting 70-80% of the automobiles we might make.”
Ineos is focused on gross sales of round 25,000 gadgets consistent with yr. The corporate has up to now defined its imaginative and prescient for the 4×4 to be bought globally, however in particular focused on america, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Prices are set to stay carefully to these of the outgoing Defender, which was once priced from £25,000.
The automotive has been dubbed Projekt Grenadier, which references the Grenadier pub in Knightsbridge that is with regards to the Ineos workplace and the place plans for this Defender-inspired type have been first mentioned, in step with Crotty. The German spelling of ‘undertaking’ is a nod to the nationality of Heilmann.
“We want the best-quality engineering under the skin of this vehicle, hence the nod in this direction,” Crotty mentioned. “We want to remind everyone that what we’re trying to do is make an uncompromising 4×4 with high levels of engineering.”
Much of the design and powertrain choices are nonetheless to be made up our minds, however Crotty instructed Autocar ultimate yr that it is prone to have a diesel possibility, whilst hybrid and electrical era is being explored.
“We’re looking at a range of options for powertrains,” he mentioned. “Hybrid era may neatly be at the playing cards, particularly as a result of it will assist with emissions control, however we would wish it to retain its off-road values.
“Pure EV may be an opportunity. We’re having a look at the whole thing and haven’t closed anything else off. I’d be very shocked if a diesel possibility wasn’t a part of that.”
Crotty additionally showed that the SUV can have a standard chassis, somewhat than a monocoque, and it’ll be somewhat low-tech, in contrast to Land Rover’s drawing close Defender alternative, which is due on sale in 2019.
“It will be extremely high-quality and extremely reliable,” Crotty added.
As for styling, Crotty mentioned the SUV can have the “spirit of the Defender” however it received’t be a lookalike. “It won’t be a modern SUV,” he defined. “It will be much more like an old-style, very rugged off-roader.”
Ineos claims to be one of the crucial international’s biggest producers, however this would be the first time that it has produced a car.
Crotty authorized that the undertaking is a chance, however maintained that it had the entire backing of the corporate and the staff was once made up our minds to make the auto a winning luck.
“People probably think we’re crazy because we’re not in the car industry,” he mentioned. “There’s risk in everything you do, but we can manage that risk. We are manufacturers; we know what we’re doing and we know we need high quality from the people in the industry.”
Ratcliffe is a huge fan of the Defender and was once at the back of the corporate’s transfer to make its personal type.
“This is a fantastically exciting project,” Ratcliffe mentioned. “We want to build the world’s purest 4×4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe.”
Ineos mentioned it “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”.
Ratcliffe added: “I am a great admirer of the old Defender and have enormous respect for its off-road capability, and our new 4×4 has been inspired by it. But while our off-roader might share its spirit, our new car will be a major improvement on previous models.”
Jaguar Land Rover is fiercely protecting of its Defender. In 2016, it averted a Canadian corporate from the usage of the title Defender for an all-terrain car.
At the time, JLR prison boss Keith Benjamin mentioned: “The Defender is an iconic vehicle that is part of JLR’s past, present and future. The success of our business is based on unique design and engineering attributes, and we intend to protect the brand robustly around the world.”
Ineos has knowledgeable JLR of its plans. Crotty mentioned there was once no battle between the 2 events and that JLR’s reaction was once “neutral”. “There have been no great fallings out – just sensible conversation,” he mentioned.
“We’re not out to produce a copy; we’re out to produce a new vehicle that is filling a space that the Defender used to fill.”
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