The evolution of British-based Ineos Automotive and its coming rough-and-tumble SUV, the Grenadier, took another step forward with the company’s announcement its North American headquarters will be located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Many may not think of Raleigh, which is part of the state’s well-known Research Triangle, as a place to establish a fledgling automotive operation, but Greg Clark, the man who heads up its North American operations, points out it has a variety of strengths.
He noted the area’s booming economy and technological expertise are bonuses for an automotive company, making the area an appealing place to find and attract talent; however, he also noted there are few places in the country combining those factors while offering the geography that caters to really pushing the Grenadier to its maximum capability.
“(It’s) surrounded by is not only the landscape but also the customer base that really loves 4×4 vehicles,” he said. “They love getting off-road and there’s some spectacular routes, national forests — we’re closer to the customer. So it’s really important for us not to be necessarily in the northeast, or to be in a massive metropolitan area where we don’t get to see much of the great outdoors. It’s important for me to be close by.”
North American operations
Much the same way one builds a new vehicle company from the ground up, the North American operations will grow the same way: slowly and intentionally. Clark said his operation will grow to about 25 people by the end of 2022, and push close to 50 by the end of 2024.
“From here we’ll run operations across North America, focusing on the U.S., but also serving Canada and Mexico,” he said.
A new rugged choice
The Ineos Grenadier is creation of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of Ineos, one of the world’s largest chemical companies. A longtime Land Rover Defender enthusiast, Ratcliffe decided to build his own version of a next-generation Land Rover Defender after the last one rolled off the line in 2016. A new version of the Defender made its debut last year.
Thus, Ineos Automotive was born, feeding a market the company feels is underserved. Radcliffe wanted a vehicle engineered to last more than a decade, one designed to attack difficult terrain, not simple two tracks.
Being such a new company, Ineos partnered with BMW Group and Magna Steyr to assist with bringing the vehicle to market.
A BMW turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine and ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability calibrated specifically for the vehicle will be standard. A manual transmission will not be offered. A diesel engine will be sold in most markets, but not in the United States or Canada due to the difficulty in meeting emission requirements, although Mexico remains a possibility.
The Grenadier will come with a two-speed transfer case, three locking differentials, and a 7,700-pound towing capacity. There are solid beam axles for maximum articulation and a galvanized steel-ladder frame. Both steel and alloy wheels will be offered.