A chemical company and an American giant... who would have guessed it?
After a nearly 70-year production run, the Land Rover Defender finally went out of production in 2016. Land Rover is currently working on an all-new model, which promises to be far more advanced. While many people will be happy with this new, modern Defender, some people are simply too attached to the original.
Last year, we reported that a billionaire named Jim Ratcliffe - owner of the chemical company Ineos - was planning to build his own 4X4 off-roader in the vein of the Land Rover Defender. We last heard Ratcliffe was searching for a production base in the UK or Europe. According to the Financial Times, Ratcliffe may have found a location and a partner to build his dream 4X4.
Ineos is currently in talks with Ford to build vehicles at its Bridgend plant in South Wales. The deal would offer jobs to 1,000 workers at the plant who are currently at risk of redundancy. Ineos would use a section of the plant which currently produces engines for Jaguar and Land Rover. Ford's deal to source engines to JLR is set to expire in 2020, which will create uncertainty for 1,100 of the factory's 1,700 workers. The factory itself also faces financial uncertainty as the Brexit split could lead to additional tariffs.
Building a new 4X4 at the plant could provide a nice boost to the UK auto industry that is currently in a bit of turmoil. Ratcliffe says he intends to invest "hundreds of millions of pounds" in this project but hasn't specified how many vehicles will be built. We also know very little about the vehicle itself, other than Ineos has already signed contracts with former Mercedes division MBTech to do the engineering and with Magna to do the chassis development. The deal with Ford to use its factory has yet to be finalized but seems like it could be a match made in heaven.