Remember billionaire Jim? We wrote about Jim last year, shortly after the last ever ‘old style’ Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line in Solihull.
Back then Jim – who made his billions with the Ineos chemicals company – wanted to buy the rights to the Defender name and the tooling to keep building them. Jim admired the Defender’s rugged, simple, off-road focused design and understood that once gone, there was no modern vehicle that could replace it and satisfy the needs of the passionate buyer niche it was leaving in its wake.
Land Rover predictably didn’t want a bar of it – they still have plans for the Defender name with an all new, considerably more modern Defender expected to debut in 2019.
All of which left Jim with two options, give up or build his own new 4X4 and billionaires don’t give up. Tony Stark wouldn’t and neither has Jim.
Following the completion of a six month feasibility study, Ineos has confirmed that it is to go ahead and build a brand new “uncompromising” 4X4 off-roader and yes, we like the sound of that!
Ineos is one of the world’s larger manufacturers, but it has never designed and built a vehicle before. The company is expecting to spend many hundreds of millions of pounds 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 up 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. An Ineos representative has previously suggested that Ineos would build their own manufacturing facility, capable of building 20,000 vehicles per year and that pricing would be similar to the now defunct Defender.
The project is to be run by Dirk Heilmann, former head of engineering and technology at Ineos and now CEO of Ineos Automotive.
“This is an amazing project for everyone involved. Our job is to create the world’s best 4X4 and we are already moving forward with our plans”, said Dirk Heilmann
Dirk has started the recruiting process required to assemble the team of automotive experts that a project of this type requires.
The new 4X4 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 4X4 driving experience.
“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”, says Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos Chairman
Ineos is determined that its new vehicle will offer a real and pure alternative to the current crop of standardised ‘jelly-mould’ SUV’s.