Ineos takes the giant leap to auto market, to roll out off-roader


Ineos is moving away from its main market to fill a gap in the market for an off-roader vehicle, following the end of production of the Land Rover Defender by Jaguar Land Rover. Ineos says it is prepared to invest “many hundreds of millions” producing the new vehicle and hopes this could be done in the UK.

“This is a fantastically exciting project,” said Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos Chairman/Founder. ”We want to build the world’s purest 4 x 4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe.”

Conceived in 1947, the Land Rover broke the mould as a multipurpose vehicle and became the vehicle of choice for farmers and armies across the world. Rechristened the Defender in 1990, Jaguar Land Rover announced that production would end after 67 years. The last Defender rolled off the production line in January 2016.

Meanwhile, Ineos has completed a six-month feasibility study and says it is to go ahead. It will be the first time that Ineos has produced such a vehicle. 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.

The project, obviously the brainchild of Ratcliffe who is a fan of the original Land Rover Defender, is to be run by Dirk Heilmann, formerly head of Engineering and Technology at Ineos. Dirk, now CEO of Ineos Automotive has already started recruiting a team of automotive experts.

The vehicle will not be a replica of the Defender but will reflect its philosophy, says Ineos. 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 4 x 4 driving experience.

Ineos is determined that its new vehicle will offer a real and pure alternative to the current crop of standardised ‘jelly-mould’ SUV’s.

“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,” said Ratcliffe.

It aims to have cars coming off the production line by 2020.

Ineos, which last year announced its intention to relocate its headquarters from the UK from Switzerland, principally produces chemicals but in recent years has expanded across the energy sector, investing heavily in the UK. It owns the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, and holds interests in shale fracking licences across Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Cheshire.


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