Plans by Ineos and its founder Jim Ratcliffe to build a true successor to the Land Rover Defender are moving on apace as Ineos appoints MBtech – a former Mercedes-Benz subsidiary – to design and engineer the new 4×4.
Last summer, we reported that Jim Radcliffe – billionaire founder of Ineos – was planning to build a 21st century take on the Land Rover Defender as Land Rover seemed intent on delivering a new Defender which was more ‘Lifestyle’ than hardcore.
Jim’s plans are to build a modern ‘Defender’ which pays homage to the original, but with far superior build quality, modern safety and modern engines and deliver a 4×4 which would appeal to proper Defender lovers.
Jim and Ineos haven’t thrilled Land Rover with their plans, with JLR refusing them rights to the Defender and trying to Trademark the Defender to stop the plans dead.
But despite Land Rover’s irritation, the deep pockets of Jim Radcliffe seem to be winning the day, and Ineos has now announced the appointment of former Mercedes-Benz subsidiary, MBtech – to deign and engineer the new ‘Defender’.
MBtech still get most of its work from Mercedes – but also works with companies like BMW and Porsche – and will take Ineos’s ‘Projekt Grenadier’ from initial design concepts to a fully engineered vehicle, with 200 engineers in Stuttgart dedicated to the project within months.
Henry Kohlstruck, MBtech MD, said:
All of us at MBtech are looking forward to getting involved in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop a truly uncompromising off-road vehicle.
The next six months are where the real work will begin as we take all the design variables into account. Our key competencies lie in developing SUVs and 4x4s, and we are very excited to be given such freedom and responsibility to help complete a fantastic automotive project.
Ineos has still to decide where their new 4×4 will be built – much depends on whether the UK government want to chip in – but are aiming to deliver at least 25,000 a year from 2020.