In a time of dreadful turmoil for the British automotive industry, a glimmer of good news has been confirmed.
The wealthiest man in Britain, Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the Ineos chemical group, has announced that his ambitious project to continue producing a vehicle similar in silhouette and ability to the Land Rover Defender, now has a confirmed engine supplier.
Ratcliffe has convinced BMW to supply his Projekt Grenadier vehicles with its TwinPower turbocharged engines. Having a German engine supplier will be of huge benefit to the Ineos automotive venture, guaranteeing a consistent supply of the best possible technology and consistent production standards.
Ineos has projected that it needs to build 25 000 of its revived Defenders a year to make the Projekt Grenadier venture work and profiting from the misfortunate of others, it might now be in the position to acquire a functioning assembly facility on the cheap.
Honda’s Swindon production facility, which the Japanese are abandoning as part of its Brexit containment strategy, would be excellently suited to building the Projekt Grenadier Defenders.
For fans of the Land Rover Defender, Projekt Grenadier is a hopeful revival and the fact that it will be BMW powered is also of special significance. Especially to South African Land Rover followers. During the brief period when BMW took ownership of Land Rover, in the mid-1990s, the South African subsidiaries of both companies worked together to produce BMW-powered Defenders.
Those Defender 2.8i Land Rovers remain hugely collectable and showed that a sophisticated petrol engine could find application in an extreme off-roader. For BMW, there is no business or product conflict supplying Ineos automotive with its engines.
The Munich brand does not produce a rock-crawling, utilitarian 4x4 – which is what Projeckt Grenadier will evolve into when it becomes a production vehicle, in 2020.