Land Rover is working on bringing back the Defender nameplate for some time now, but there’s another ongoing project outside the company that aims to offer a “Defender-inspired” SUV from 2021.
Ineos Automotive is behind this project, for which we’ve heard very little until now.
Apparently, Ineos has contracted MBtech, a German company partly owned by Daimler, to develop the new SUV. Despite that, their SUV will use BMW, and not Mercedes, powertrains, AutoNews reports. The BMW engines will be mounted longitudinally and be coupled to a rear-biased four-wheel drive system, although we still don’t know exactly which engines will be used.
Jaguar Land Rover has previously said that it has no problem with a little competition from Ineos, but it will monitor closely the efforts of the company in relation to its intellectual property.
The production location for the new Defender-inspired SUV, internally codenamed Project Grenadier, has not been decided yet, with the company saying that the decision will be between a site in the UK and another somewhere in western Europe.
Ineos’ ambitious plan is to manufacture between 25,000 to 30,000 units annually, with the SUV targeted at owners of high-spec double-cab pickup trucks, as it will be offered with a similar price tag.
“We see it as putting U (utility) back into SUV,” Dirk Heilmann, CEO of Ineos Automotive said, adding that their model would mostly focus on customers that require a certain off-road and towing ability.
“If you go back to basics you will have a boxy 4×4 with a wheel on each corner and straight sides. I won’t be surprised if people see the resemblance to other 4×4 vehicles,” Heilmann said.
The new SUV will be based on a sturdy steel ladder frame created by Ineos for better off-road and towing capabilities and use bodywork made from aluminum. The company plans to add a double-cab pickup version of its SUV as well.
Ineos’ Defender-inspired SUV will be initially launched in Europe, Australia and Africa according to the company. A U.S. launch is also on the cards, but the company didn’t provide a timeline.