Jim Radcliffe is still adamant that he will be building an off-roader modelled on Land Rover’s classic Defender, and it could be rolling off British production lines if the head of petrochemicals giant Ineos can win government backing for it.
This is not the first time Jim R has rattled the top brass at JLR, he has been talking the Defender replacement quote since the end of production at JLR and as a Defender lover, Jim just will not go away with his idea and dream.
Britain’s biggest auto manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) stopped making the well loved boxy truck in 2016 after a 68 year run. Known the world over and with famous owners including the Queen, Princes and Sultans, the death of the icon was never set in stone.
Ineos founder, chairman and CEO Jim Ratcliffe said on Tuesday he plans to build 25,000 of the new 4x4s a year, known as‘Projekt Grenadier’, which will be modelled on the old Defender style, as the design is not currently trademarked in Britain.
However, a spokesman at JLR, which plans to build a new vehicle with the Defender name, said the original design has been registered in many countries and a trademark application is currently under way in Britain.
Not sure why Land Rover are bothering to try to protect the shape of the Defender as there are other 4×4 vehicles with the boxy look including the very similar new Bollinger.
If Ratcliffe succeeds in his plans, the automotive arm of Ineos would become one of Britain’s biggest carmakers, with an output more than double that of long standing brands such as Aston Martin, McLaren, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Ratcliffe said he would invest 600 million pounds ($800 million) to begin output of his new off-roader from 2020-21, saying he would prefer to build in Britain but that there are cheaper alternatives in countries such as Germany where the workforce is already trained and Ineos could use existing sites.
Ratcliffe identified potential sites in Britain along the east coast, from Scotland down to Hull, with a decision due by the end of next year.
The investment would also come as a welcome boost to the government as the car industry becomes increasingly concerned that its exports could face tariffs of up to 10 % and borders checks if Britain leaves the EU without a free trade deal, risking the viability of factories.
Ratcliffe said he was confident politicians would strike a deal that would maintain unfettered trade as both British and EU businesses stand to lose out.
“I think common sense will prevail … so I’m not spending too much time worrying about Brexit,” he said.
Check out the Telegraph report here.