WE’LL SEE the new Land Rover Defender before the end of 2019, but we very much doubt it will continue to be the rugged, simple and purposeful off-roader that served the company for close to six decades.
Instead it will fall in line with the rest of Land Rover’s vehicles, being a luxury SUV, albeit one with more off-road usefulness than anything else in the brand’s range.
At the same time that JLR has been working on its new Defender, a vehicle that is closer to the original Land Rover is also being developed.
British chemical engineer and billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe, made headlines shortly after JLR announced it would cease producing the Defender as we knew it, when he attempted to buy the vehicle from JLR – including the name and production facilities – so that his company INEOS could continue to build it. JLR said no to the idea, so Ratcliffe has gone out on his own.
Since then INEOS has spawned INEOS Automotive and commissioned German engineering firm MBtech to develop its vehicle, which is now known as Projekt Grenadier. MBtech was once a part of Mercedes-Benz before it was sectioned off, and now it works on large-scale engineering projects for numerous auto companies from its headquarters in Stuttgart.
4x4 history: 70 years of Land Rover
In another German link, INEOS Automotive has just announced that BMW will be supplying both the petrol and diesel powertrains for Projekt Grenadier; although, there have been no further details as to what those powertrains will comprise. That’s interesting, as the previous Land Rover Defender also used engines from BMW in some markets around the world.
Ratcliffe’s plan has always been to produce an off road-vehicle that remains true to the Land Rover’s original design; a simple, no compromise off-roader that can be used by utilities, NGOs, exploration companies, militaries and recreational drivers anywhere in the world. Think Land Rover, Jeep and Land Cruiser and you’re heading in the same direction as Projekt Grenadier.
Ratcliffe has said he hopes the vehicle will be built in Britain, but is yet to confirm a production site. If plans progress as hoped by INEOS, Projekt Grenadier will be in production and on sale in 2021, with production expected to reach 25,000 units annually.