The company's Greg Clark says dealerships need to understand the ethos of the brand.
Due to safety regulations, the original Land Rover Defender was pulled from the American market in 1997. This has created strong demand for the capable Brit, with consumers willing to pay big bucks for original or resto-modded examples. The icon has since been replaced with a plusher, more civilized variant that is excellent but lacks the rugged persona of the first model.
That's where Ineos comes in. The Grenadier is a modern incarnation of the legendary off-roader. With plans to introduce the vehicle in the USA, the automaker is looking at appointing local dealerships to sell the capable SUV stateside. In an interview with Automotive News, the company's Greg Clark said Ineos is hoping to have 35 dealers across North America by the time the vehicle is launched here next year.
With approximately 5,000 reservations from US-based customers, Ineos has been ramping up its American operations. Clark explains that the first vehicles are rolling off the production line, with European deliveries expected to commence in the fourth quarter. Local buyers will have to wait a bit longer, though. "We've gone through all the main structural gateways and have set up plans in terms of homologation and certification."
He added that the company is on track. "We are wrapping up plans for marketing, which will be focused primarily on our reservation holders as a principal measure of conversion. It's all fine to make a reservation, but folks need to get behind the wheel to make that decision."
Ineos isn't just going to appoint any interested dealership, though. A discriminating selection process will ensure the automaker chooses only the best partners.
"We've had a lot of hand-raisers, a big selection of dealers from all over the country. And mostly in those areas that are of the greatest focus for us. But we are being very judicious in the selection process. We're on the cusp of naming our first dealer," said Clark.
So, what type of dealership is Ineos hoping to attract? "We're looking for entrepreneurial, innovative, and quite visionary dealer partners who see the market opportunity for a utilitarian 4x4 to increase customer choice in the market," adds Clark. He notes this is occupying plenty of his time, as Ineos needs to select partners who will do the brand justice and represent it accordingly.
Not only do these dealers have to be in a convenient location, but they also need to build a community around the vehicle and customers.
"Our reservation holders have told us they want to be part of something. They want to meet with like-minded people. They don't just want to go on a coffee run but a full weekend or week's worth of expedition. Potential dealers will understand that and be presenting great ideas for that."
The Grenadier gains motivation from a selection of lusty BMW inline-six engines, so many would assume the German automaker would be the prime partner for customer sales. Clark admits this is appealing, as luxury brands such as BMW typically deal in smaller volumes and provide consumers with top-class treatment. What's more, their workshops are often first-rate.
However, Ineos is more interested in partnering with dealers that have the "right mindset" and who share the "passion for the Grenadier." At this stage, Ineos has no interest in pursuing the direct sales method.
Despite the lofty requirements, willing dealers will have to fork over a substantial investment to be a purveyor of Ineos vehicles. Clark doesn't give an exact amount, but notes it is in the "low six figures." However, that doesn't include other changes, such as renovations, branding, and, perhaps, additional real estate.
"We are hugely conscious that they make a very positive business case. If they are making money, the likelihood they are delivering great customer service with their A-team is much higher," he adds. The majority of authorized Ineos dealerships will be found in the USA and Canada, with Clark anticipating 35 dealerships spread across the two countries. Mexican consumers will be accommodated by one or two retailers.
As a reminder, reservations can be made on the company's website and requires a refundable $450 deposit. Three models will be made available; the base Grenadier ($59,600), and the Trailmaster and Fieldmaster ($67,376). We wouldn't be surprised if this is updated upon arrival, though.