Media Land Rover

Ineos Bridgend factory talks "very advanced", minister claims

Ineos Automotive, a subsidiary of chemicals company Ineos, appears to be close to a deal to build its new 4x4 in Bridgend next to the soon-to-close Ford factory. 

The company's boss, billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has reportedly been interested in the site for some time. Now Welsh economy minister Ken Skates has told BBC Radio Wales that talks are "very advanced" between the government and the newly established carmaker. 

Ineos Automotive plans to build a Land Rover Defender-inspired model, dubbed the Project Grenadier SUV, with production to start in 2021.

Reports suggest that rather than use Ford's existing Bridgend production facility, as previously considered, Ineos would build its own plant close by.  If it goes ahead, the new facility could bring hundreds of new jobs to an area set to be badly affected by Ford's decision to close its engine plant next year.

Ineos's upcoming challenger to the iconic Land Rover Defender will be constructed in partnership with German engineering firm MBTech, which is part-owned by Mercedes-Benz.

The technical tie-up will involve MBtech allocating 200 full-time engineers to the project from its Stuttgart base. Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann says the deal will "bring together German engineering and British design and entrepreneurship".

Projekt Grenadier will be a rugged SUV that's in the spirit of – but not directly related to – the original Defender.

Ineos intends to reveal early sketches of the car later this year. MBtech will be tasked with "working up" the exact specifications of the vehicle to ensure that it is a "truly rugged, reliable and uncompromising 4x4".