The new Grenadier off-roader from British chemical giant Ineos will end up being built at Daimler's modern plant in Hambach, France, where the Smart Fortwo minicar is currently in production.
With future Smarts to be built in China by a joint venture between Daimler and Geely, Daimler announced in July that it was seeking a buyer for the Hambach plant which employs roughly 1,600 staff.
Ineos announced Tuesday that it has reached a deal with Daimler to acquire the plant for production of the Grenadier. Ineos will also continue production of the Fortwo for Daimler on a contract manufacturing basis and estimates that about 1,300 staff will be retained.
“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,” Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of Ineos Group, said in a statement.
Ineos originally planned to build its own plant in Bridgend, Wales, as well as a separate site in Estarreja, Portugal, dedicated to chassis and body production. But with news of the sale of the Hambach plant, Ineos suspended work at both sites.
Ineos revealed the Grenadier in July. The vehicle is a rugged, body-on-frame design with both SUV and pickup truck body styles planned. Prototypes are currently testing ahead of a targeted start of production in late 2021.
For Ineos, the aim is to sell the vehicle worldwide, which means we could potentially see it in the United States. The company has said pricing will depend on how many orders it secures but has hinted at a starting price of less than $65,000.