Over a friendly pint at the Grenadier pub in London, car enthusiast and experienced adventurer Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, no-nonsense, utilitarian 4x4. After a thorough assessment and feasibility study, INEOS turned its manufacturing and engineering expertise to building such a vehicle. INEOS Automotive Limited was established and a senior team of experienced automotive experts assembled to bring the vision to reality, with a fresh perspective on 4x4 development and manufacturing.
Fusing British design and entrepreneurship with German engineering precision, since February 2018, our 200-strong team of expert engineers have been working full-time on the vehicle from our offices in Stuttgart. We’re well advanced and now moving into series development with early prototypes being tested.
An uncompromising 4X4 needs an engine to match. One that’s robust. Able to deliver low-end torque when you need it most. That’s why in March 2019 they chose BMW Group as our powertrain partner. BMW’s latest-generation TwinPower turbocharged straight-six petrol and diesel engines will deliver reliability, performance and durability, even in the harshest conditions.
On the 1st July 2020, INEOS Automotive revealed the exterior design of the Grenadier, its forthcoming, no-nonsense 4x4 vehicle for the world, another step on the road towards the start of production. The INEOS Grenadier has been designed on purpose: namely to meet the demands of its future owners for a rugged, capable and comfortable go-anywhere working vehicle.
Ratcliffe, founder and majority owner of the £50 billion British petrochemicals group Ineos, is a steadfast devotee of the old Defender. He came up with the idea of building a replacement of his own when Jaguar Land Rover declined to sell him its designs or tooling to continue when production ceased at Solihull after 67 years in January 2016.
Most reminiscent of the Defender is the Grenadier’s body ‘shoulder’ that runs from the top of the front wings in a dead straight line right to the rear end. Ecuyer said this gives room for ‘stuff’ inside the bottom half of the doors while allowing their tops to be “no thicker than they need to be”.
The doors have external hinges that help with the door removal that will suit some users and give the car’s design the honesty Ecuyer sought.
“It was really important to us that this design should be easily read, with nothing complicated or mysterious about it,” said Ecuyer. “You can see how the doors and bonnet are attached. There are no hidden pillars or tricks with glass. It’s comfortable to be around, not too clever. And there’s none of the clever technology people have developed to sanitise big SUVs. It’s just honest.”
Ecuyer admitted to plenty of debate about the Grenadier’s rear-end design: for a long time, the team were settled on a classic split tailgate, before deciding late in the day on the big-door-small-door layout.
Tailgates can make vehicles hard to load or unload, said Ecuyer, and the swing-out spare wheel carrier would have been “a nightmare”.
The small door can be opened before the large one to provide access to the space-saver tool compartment that’s innovatively pressed into its skin below the glass.
The round tail-lights “share a common language” with the round headlights and are mounted ideally on the extra space provided by the body shoulder, happily where modern law requires them to be visible. “They’re the result of a very practical problem,” said Ecuyer, “not a wafty sketch in a cafe somewhere…”
Interesting evidence of Ecuyer’s nautical design background abounds. The roof can be used to carry loads without a rack, and one artful touch is the provision of four tie bars on the sides of the roof that look a lot like the roof lights of an old Land Rover.
Heilmann said he expects the Grenadier to be heavier than the old Defender 110, which is narrower but slightly longer, but that’s mostly because the Land Rover is a considerably simpler, less well-equipped vehicle with a much lighter powertrain. The target weight is around 2400kg, but today’s initial prototypes are 80kg too heavy, so weight must be reduced to improve the Grenadier’s all-important off-road performance.
Ineos’s engine choice is the BMW B57/B58 family, so each Grenadier will have a modular 3.0-litre petrol or diesel straight-six that sends its drive through a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic gearbox (and a separate low-range transfer case). Depending on spec, these engines make anything from 261bhp to nearly 400bhp in their BMW applications.
The car’s relatively old-tech body-on-frame chassis, twin live axles and non-independent coil suspension are a rarity nowadays; even the Hilux has independent front suspension. However, the body is a complex mixture of aluminium, high-strength steel and composites.
“We’ve had to learn that aluminium isn’t always the best choice for strength and crash purposes,” said Heilmann, “so we’ve chosen the right materials for the right jobs.” But much of the outer skin – the bonnet, the doors and the mudguards are aluminium.
Europe and North America will be the key markets, but Ineos is also very interested in Australia, Africa and South-East Asia, where it is confident the Grenadier’s ruggedness will go down well.
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