The INEOS Grenadier is a lot more than wishful thinking. Our Motors contributor Mercedes Lilienthal has the lowdown on what this new 4×4 is all about, and what stage it is in development.
As adventurers of the great outdoors, we experience Mother Nature through the gear we use, the clothing we wear, and the vehicles we take to get us there. There’s a new player in town producing a vehicle that could potentially change the landscape of off-roading as we know it. Enter the INEOS Grenadier, manufactured by INEOS Automotive.
Auto manufacturers are fleeing utilitarian body-on-frame 4x4s boasting solid axles and other off-road-ready qualifications. Instead, they’re playing up luxurious and tech-savvy soft-roaders. Those moves are leaving a widening gap of disparity between legitimate off-roading four-wheel drives and vehicles that wished they were one.
Will this automotive newcomer become an overlander’s mainstay, or will it blow away with the next wind advisory? Only time will tell as this French-made 4×4 — the INEOS Grenadier — enters North America with vigor.
London-based INEOS Group, the godfather to newly formed INEOS Automotive, interacts with our everyday life, whether we know it or not. INEOS Group is a global manufacturer of chemicals and oil commodities. The parent company encompasses a multifaceted collection of 36 businesses employing 26,000 individuals.
Additionally, the INEOS Group’s production network incorporates 194 manufacturing plants in 29 countries. The INEOS Group facilitates ventures of all kinds and, as of late, it entered the off-roading world with INEOS Automotive, an autocentric entity formed a few short years ago.
Realizing the marketplace gap, INEOS Group Chairman and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe sought to create a utilitarian 4×4 to replace the now-extinct classic Land Rover Defender 110, a 4×4 he greatly admired.
Since the production of the old-school 110 ceased in 2016, Ratcliffe assembled top automotive professionals to create a unique version of the workhorse SUV — separate from Land Rover — with a different design and intent.
The Grenadier Prototype Progression
Whereas Jaguar Land Rover is hurtling toward high-end luxury 4x4s that forgo a body-on-frame design, INEOS Automotive is promoting a new utilitarian 4×4 SUV that includes them: the INEOS Grenadier.
The INEOS Grenadier, currently in the middle of its prototype progression, is ending its first run of production tryout vehicles, known as PTOs. Before PTO1s, there were 1B and 2B prototypes (the author drove a 2B prototype off-road in France during her time with it).
After initial 1B and 2B iterations were successfully completed, PTO1 units were produced for engineering testing. Future PTO variants include PTO2 Grenadiers, with projected production beginning in March 2022. PTO2 Grenadiers will be marketing units made for testing and specific production trails.
Finally, the last prototype variant, before production-ready Grenadiers make it to the line, is PTO3. These pre-production units include “lessons learned” and will be used for road testing and other endeavors. The PTO3 anticipated production date starts mid-May 2022.
Once final prototypes have been tested and vetted, production of launch-series vehicles can begin. The anticipated start date for sales-ready machines is slated for July of this year, with Europe receiving initial units.
As of today, the INEOS factory is on track with a 99% success rate of exactness manufacturing their PTO1 run. It is currently making final adjustments to increase cycle-time efficiency to 5 minutes per station before PTO2 prototypes are manufactured.
A Smart Decision
The INEOS Grenadier factory sits at the French-German border in Hambach, France. Acquired from Mercedes-Benz (MB) in January 2021, INEOS invested over $56 million, in addition to the $531 million MB invested in 2019, to create an all-new production line. This included reinforcing the roof, adding a new fuel station, and keeping key areas open for future expansion.
INEOS’ goal is to keep all Grenadier derivatives under one roof. This includes the standard Grenadier, a future long-wheelbase and pickup truck version, as well as hydrogen– and electric-powered entities.
The Hambach factory went from making all-electric Mercedes-Benz Smart cars to the polar opposite — petrol and diesel-powered Grenadier 4x4s. Even though the vehicles are different, the Mercedes/INEOS plant was the first carbon-neutral plant in Europe. Waste recovery, as well as waste and biological treatment plants, are used to maintain the effort.
Whereas plant changes of this magnitude typically take 18-24 months or more to complete, the new retrofitted Grenadier factory took a mere 12 months to flip. The INEOS Grenadier manufacturing facility now boasts a new, fully automated body shop including over 250 robots, a semi-automated paint, e-coating, and sealing shop, and an improved general assembly area. A new high-tech quality assessment center coupled with laser-scanning equipment is also on site.
Approximately 1,000 people work at INEOS Automotive’s Hambach facility. When examining the plant’s current personnel, the average age of each worker is 45 years old with 20 years of seniority in the business — an ideal workforce when building a new car and new car company.
To date, about 20,000 person-hours of manufacturing training have been completed. At the end of the PTO phase, INEOS Automotive expects to amass 80,000 hours of instruction.
Grenadier Nuts and Bolts
Initial first-year production goals range from 25,000 to 30,000 units, a drop in the bucket compared to the competition, but substantially more than super-niche automakers. Additionally, INEOS is pleased with above-average take rates for Grenadier reservations: 15,000 bookings and counting.
Armed with 2,000 different bolts and 1,200 total parts, the INEOS Grenadier is set to strike a chord with workers and off-road enthusiasts alike. The company’s mantra is “Built on Purpose.”
It is strategically planning fewer computers and simpler methods to enhance an analog driving experience versus throwing tons of tech at the vehicle just because it can.
The INEOS Grenadier has a permanent four-wheel drive and a Tremec two-speed transfer case. It boasts a twin-turbo BMW 3.0L straight-six engine.
North America is expected to get the gasoline variant, which generates 281 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The diesel version, not planned to be sold in North America, has 245 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. A tried-and-true ZF 8-speed automatic transmission will accompany both variants and will offer manual shifting abilities.
Grenadier Pricing and Availability
Pricing for North America won’t be revealed until late 2022. However, it’s anticipated to be on the upper end of the Jeep Wrangler or Land Rover Defender price range. In addition, full Grenadier specifications are expected this April.
Although Europe will start seeing the INEOS Grenadier in July, adventure-hungry enthusiasts from Canada and the United States will have to wait idle until 2023.
Until then, you can get online and build your own Grenadier virtually through the INEOS online configurator, and dream of the off-road adventures ahead.