Chemical company Ineos is moving a step closer to automotive production by entering talks with Ford to build an off-road vehicle at the firm’s engine factory in Wales, United Kingdom.
Ineos has been planning its entry into the automotive industry for a long time now and has designed an off-road vehicle with a design similar to the Land Rover Defender. Ford’s Bridgend, south Wales factory currently produces engines for Jaguar Land Rover despite both brands being sold to Tata in 2008. The engine production arrangement is good through 2020 after which JLR will cease sourcing engines from the facility.
This would leave as many as 1,100 of the Bridgend factory’s 1,700-strong workforce without jobs. Ford is Britain’s biggest engine producer by volume, manufacturing half of the country’s 2.7 million units at its Bridgend facility as well as another plant in Dagenham, near London.
Ford is also worried about the effects Brexit could have on several major carmakers’ production, imports, and supply chains. This is where Ineos can step in to make things better. The London-based chemicals manufacturer has identified the Bridgend site as a potential production location for its off-road vehicle venture. Ineos confirmed to the Financial Times that it had “several great options” regarding production locations, but declined to comment on the Bridgend facility being one of them. The company will make its decision by the end of 2018.
Renowned majorly for its chemical production, Ineos is nevertheless serious about building its first car. The company has already contacted former Mercedes-Benz offshoot MBtech (now AKKA) to engineer the upcoming SUV. Magna International, the company which serves clients such as Toyota, BMW, Tesla, and Volkswagen has also been roped in to develop the new car’s chassis.
While the Ineos SUV resembles the now-discontinued Land Rover Defender, the carmaker is already busy developing a successor for the legendary SUV with a glorious legacy. “I was a great admirer of the old Land Rover Defender and had enormous respect for its off-road capability,” said INEOS Chairman Jim Ratcliffe. “Our new 4 x4 may have been inspired by it and might share its spirit, but it will not be a replica. It will be a major improvement on previous models.”