Ineos Projekt Grenadier: carrying on where the Land Rover Defender left off

Published: 19 September 2017

New traditional 4x4 vehicle planned
Backed by chemical giant Ineos
Model name TBC, aims for 2020 launch

Authentically hardy off-roaders in the vein of traditional Jeeps, Land Rover Defenders and Mercedes G-Wagens are a dying breed in the modern automotive market.

But the newly created Ineos Automotive outfit aims to change that – it plans to create a ‘world-class, uncompromising 4x4’, scheduled to reach the market in 2020.

The new vehicle will be a standalone design, influenced in character and approach by the Land Rover Defender. It doesn’t have a name yet – it may be chosen by a public vote – but for now, the venture is called Projekt Grenadier.

Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe

A range of models is planned, including a choice of wheelbases and diesel, petrol and hybrid powertrains.

Who is behind Projekt Grenadier?

Ineos is a chemical and energy conglomerate, with no little financial clout.

Its chairman, Jim Ratcliffe (pictured above), is a long-time fan of the Land Rover Defender. When production of the Defender ceased in 2016, Ratcliffe believes it left a gap in the market, which this project could fill. ‘We believe nothing has come close to being a suitable go-anywhere vehicle since,’ Ineos said.

Ineos says the new vehicle aims to combine ‘the spirt and straightforward engineering of old 4x4s but with a massive leap forward in reliability.’

The company’s Ineos Automotive division was created in 2015, headed up by CEO Dirk Heilmann, formely head of engineering and technology at Ineos.

Projekt Grenadier launch in Belgravia

Ineos has budgeted to spend £600 million on the vehicle, and reckons as many as 7000 jobs could be created, directly and indirectly.

An R&D centre in Hampshire has been established, but the company is still looking for a suitable manufacturing site for the vehicle, likely to be announced in 2018, with a site in the UK thought to be preferred.

Who’s it for?

According to Ineos, ‘explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts as well as city dwellers seeking adventure.’

The planned vehicle is described as a ‘brand-new, old-souled 4x4’ which ‘can drive cross-country, pull a plough, lead a safari, clear a minefield, cross a river and drive up to Buckingham Palace.’

And why is it called Projekt Grenadier?

It’s a nickname that's stuck – the Grenadier bit is after the Belgravia pub where the idea reputedly first came about, on an evening when Ratcliffe and some colleagues were discussing the demise of the Land Rover Defender. Said pub was also the starting point for the 1955 ‘First Overland’ expedition by Oxford and Cambridge students in Land Rover Series I vehicles from London to Singapore.

The ‘k’ in Projekt references the nationality of Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann, and the aim to use a thorough ‘German engineering’ approach to the car's creation.

Ineos is keen to invite dialogue with 4x4 enthusiasts through the project’s newly launch website, with an open invite to the public to share their views and recommendations. There may also be a competition to name the new vehicle.

‘The Ineos Automotive team are keen to open a window for the public on the process of designing and building a new car, while inviting input from experts and enthusiasts to shape the development of the vehicle,’ the company says.

Missing the Land Rover Defender? Check out all our Landie stories here

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ