Ineos narrows options for new car plant

By Ben Morris
Business Reporter

image copyrightIneos
image captionBillionaire Jim Ratcliffe would like to build a car plant in the UK

The location of a plant to build a new off-road vehicle has been narrowed to three options, according to Ineos.

Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, plans to build a rugged off-road vehicle, which he believes will fill a gap in the market left when Land Rover stopped building its Defender in 2016.

A brand new plant might be built on the coast in the northeast of the UK.

But the project has also been offered mothballed plants and spare production capacity at existing plants in Europe.

The project is a major departure for Ineos, which owns 65 chemical plants around the world, the biggest in Grangemouth Scotland.

"Ideally we would like to build it in the UK, because certainly I have a bit of a passion for UK manufacturing," Mr Ratcliffe told the BBC's Today programme.

But Ineos says a cheaper option might be to take over a mothballed plant on the continent, or use an idled production line at a European plant.

"We've had quite a number of offerings from the continent where there are existing facilities which we can use, where they are stepping up their game a bit and they have these empty facilities," he said.

Ineos has earmarked £650m for the plant which it has codenamed Projekt Grenadier. It estimates the facility would employ 1,000 staff and support and additional 9,000 jobs among suppliers.

image copyrightLand Rover

Mr Ratcliffe said Projekt Grenadier would focus on off-road vehicles, with a number of different models, including a pick-up truck.

He said at the moment there are lots of "jelly mould" sports utility vehicles on the market, which he said are really on-road cars or "soft-roaders".

"The Land Rover was one of the world's greatest cars, certainly one of the best off-road vehicles in the world and it leaves a gaping whole in the marketplace because there's nothing that fills that hole."

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