Smart car factory to produce the huge, go-anywhere Ineos Granadier

By AFP Time of article published Dec 9, 2020

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STUTTGART - Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler has sold its Smart car factory in northeast France to Britain's Ineos, which will use it to build the new Grenadier 4x4, which is said to be one of the best off-roaders on the planet.

Some 1300 jobs at the site will be preserved under the deal, Daimler said in a statement.

Petrochemicals firm Ineos had initially said it planned to build the Grenadier off-roader, its first foray into the automotive industry, in Wales.

But this summer it said it was considering buying Daimler's plant at Hambach instead.

"We simply could not ignore the unique opportunity offered by Hambach, namely the purchase of a modern automotive production plant with an exceptional workforce," Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe said.

Daimler caused surprise when it announced that it was putting the factory up for sale to try cut costs in the face of losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will continue production of an electric-drive Smart and part of a new electric Mercedes SUV at the site until 2024, the source in Hambach said.

The carmaker's departure from Hambach marks the end of an era that began with great fanfare in 1997, when then German chancellor Helmut Kohl and French president Jacques Chirac inaugurated the plant to produce the Smart mini two-seater city car.

The Ineos Granadier is perhaps the furthest thing from a smart car that one could imagine.

It is described as a no-nonsense 4x4 vehicle "for the world", built from the ground up on an all-new platform to meet the demands of its future owners for a rugged, capable and comfortable go-anywhere working vehicle.

You might be wondering why the world needs another burly off-roader? Earlier this year Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe said: “The Grenadier project started by identifying a gap in the market, abandoned by a number of manufacturers, for a utilitarian off-road vehicle.

“This gave us our engineering blueprint for a capable, durable and reliable 4x4 built to handle the world’s harshest environments. But it had to look the part as well. As you will see today, Toby and his team have done a great job in delivering a design that is both distinctive and purposeful.”

South Africa has been identified as one of the key markets for this vehicle.


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