August 3, 2021

Ineos: the 4×4 Grenadier plays the Arlésienne

Scheduled to be manufactured in France on the former Smart site, the Ineos Grenadier was to be marketed from 2020. But multiple production delays are now forcing the chemicals giant – transformed for the occasion into a manufacturer – to postpone its release to 2022.

Ineos faced with many difficulties

After difficult searches to find a site to accommodate the production of this “robust” 4 × 4, powered by original BMW 6-cylinder blocks and having acquired the former Smart factory in Hambach (Moselle), Ineos is faced with to many difficulties. After the economic crisis caused by the health crisis, the company has to face a shortage of semiconductors.

Pre-production vehicles produced at Magna-Steyr in Austria

While waiting for the start of official production which will take place – we are told – in 2022, Ineos is having pre-production vehicles built at Magna-Steyr in Austria. 130 prototypes will be tested on the road over a total distance of 1.8 million km.

Rumor of a 6-month postponement last March

Last March, the British newspaper The Guardian indicated that the Ineos group owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe was about to postpone for six months the release of its 4 × 4 Grenadier which is to be manufactured at the Hambach site in Moselle. The news could cause a stir among the employees of the old factory of Smart, a subsidiary of Daimler.

Ineos to delay production of the Grenadier 4 × 4 following shortages

According to The Guardian, which did not quote its sources, the delay could be explained by supply problems of certain components. These affect the entire automotive sector. They are caused in particular by disruptions following the health crisis, particularly with regard to semiconductors. A severe drought in Taiwan exacerbates the situation as industries in the region consume tons of water to produce microchips. The polar cold that hit Texas this winter has had a major impact on the US petrochemical sector, causing shortages of plastics and foams for car seats.

Thoughts on motorization

The all-terrain Grenadier 4 × 4 developed by Ineos should be manufactured from the start of 2022. If initially it is planned to be offered with a heat engine, Ineos is considering a “cleaner” version. A hydrogen model could see the light of day thanks to a partnership forged with the South Korean Hyundai.
The vehicle must be produced in the Smart factory in Hambach, bought by Ineos from the German group Daimler, with the preservation of a majority of jobs.

Our opinion, by

Real problem of shortages…. Or arguments that ideally fall to justify a delay due to much more structural problems? Between a choice of engine far from being in tune with the times … and the difficulties of improvising a car manufacturer.

Last January, the Minister for Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, had insisted on the vigilance of the State as to the “sustainability of jobs” of the Smart site in Hambach, bought last December by Ineos. The government thus suggesting that it was advisable to closely monitor the file…. some doubts are allowed …

As a reminder, as part of the operation, Daimler – the parent company of Smart – must transfer all of the site’s jobs and those of certain partners, ie a total of 1,300 people, to Ineos.

“In agreement with Daimler and Ineos, a monitoring committee will be set up and will bring together all the stakeholders to take stock of the activity which remains entrusted by Daimler on the site, as well as the ramp-up of the projects of the Grenadier ”of Ineos, had indicated the minister.

This committee will meet for the first time in the first half of this year, then twice a year until 2024. Date on which Daimler’s commitment to maintain activities on the site will end.

According to the minister, 90 million euros have been provisioned in the event that production volumes “are not at the rendezvous”, due to the economic context generated by the health crisis.
While the members of the CSE are certainly satisfied that a buyer can be found, they fear that the future of the site is not as rosy as they could hope. Employment is indeed assured… subject to the success of the vehicles produced. Beyond the ecological aspect, the local manufacture of a 4 x 4 with significant polluting emissions is not made to reassure them.

Sources : AFP, The Guardian, Ineos

To read also:

. Sale of the Smart site to Ineos: the State wants long-term jobs