The Grenadier SUV developed by British chemical giant Ineos has started production, the company said on Tuesday.
That's more than a year later than originally planned, but a lot has changed in the past year, and that's before disruptions caused by the pandemic are considered.
Production takes place at the former Smart plant in Hambach, France, which Ineos purchased from Mercedes-Benz in 2020. A previous plan was to construct a new plant in Wales. Ineos made some key upgrades to the Hambach plant, including adding a new fully automated body shop and semi-automated paint shop, and upgrading the general assembly facility. A modern quality assessment facility was also added to the site.
Ineos plant in Hambach, France
Deliveries in the first markets will start in December. Ineos said it already has 200 sales and service sites established around the globe, and the company is in the process of signing up dealerships in the U.S. Ineos has previously hinted at the Grenadier starting deliveries here in 2023, though that date may be pushed back.
The rugged, utilitarian off-roader draws its name from an old word for a specialized soldier (as well as the London pub in which the idea was conceived), and features a design clearly inspired by the original Land Rover Defender. Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe was prompted to develop the vehicle after Land Rover announced it was ending production of its original Defender.
Seeing that there was still demand for a rugged, no-nonsense off-roader from the mining, forestry and agricultural industries, as well as from enthusiasts, Ratcliffe wanted to continue offering a vehicle like the original Defender. In fact, he even tried to buy the rights to the old Defender from Land Rover but was denied.
Ineos teamed up with Austria's Magna Steyr to develop the Grenadier. Magna helped Mercedes-Benz develop the G-Class and still builds the iconic SUV to this day, so it's no surprise the Grenadier bears some resemblance to the G-Class as well. A lot of the testing took place in the same Austrian mountains where G-Class development takes place, including the famous Schoeckl.
The Grenadier is based on a platform with body-on-frame construction, solid axles with panhard rods front and rear, and progressive coil springs. To help reduce weight, the body is made from a mix of aluminum, high-strength steels and even some composites. Both regular SUV and pickup body styles are planned.
Ineos plans just one powertrain for the U.S., a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 sourced from BMW. It's mated to an 8-speed automatic and a four-wheel-drive system with a 2-speed transfer case. A diesel is offered in other markets, and further down the track it could also have electric power.