Oil and petrochemical giant Ineos Group Ltd. is making a very surprising business turn, declaring it will invest “many hundreds of millions” to create a new company that will build a 4-wheel-drive sports utility vehicle based on the Land Rover Defender.
“We want to build the world's purest 4 x 4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe,” said Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe in a Feb. 13 news release.
Rolle, Switzerland-based Ineos has 45 manufacturing sites around the world making petrochemicals, including polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and PVS — but none of those plants make anything as far downstream as a car part.
“Following the completion of a six-month feasibility study, Ineos has today confirmed that it is to go ahead and build a brand new ‘uncompromising' 4 x 4 off-roader,” the company said in its statement. “Whilst the company is one of the largest manufacturers in the world, it will be the first time that Ineos has produced such a vehicle.”
The main reason for Ineos taking this new direction is that Ratcliffe, its founder was a big fan of the Land Rover Defender, which was built for decades in the United Kingdom before Jaguar Land Rover finally ended production in early 2016.
Ineos said it is determined that the vehicle will not only fill a gap in the market vacated by the Defender but also provide a step change improvement in build quality and reliability.”