The Grenadier SUV, developed by British chemical giant Ineos, has gone into production, the company said on Tuesday.

That’s more than a year later than originally planned, but a lot has changed over the past year, and that’s even before taking into account the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Manufacturing takes place at the former Smart plant in Hambach, France, which is owned by Ineos purchased from Mercedes-Benz in 2020. It was previously planned to build a new factory in Wales. Ineos has made several key upgrades at the Hambach plant, including adding a new fully automated body shop and a semi-automated paint shop, as well as modernizing the general assembly shop. A modern quality assessment facility was also added to the site.

Ineos plant in Hambach, France

Deliveries to the first markets will begin in December. Ineos said it already has 200 sales and service sites worldwide and the company is in the process of registration of dealerships in the USA. Ineos previously hinted that deliveries of the Grenadier would begin here in 2023, although that date could be pushed back.

The rugged, utilitarian SUV takes its name from an old word for a specialist soldier (as well as the London pub where the idea was conceived) and has a design clearly inspired by the original Land Rover Defender. Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe was prompted to develop the car after Land Rover announced it was ending production of its original Defender.

Seeing that there was still a demand for a rugged, simple off-road vehicle from the mining, forestry and agricultural industries, as well as enthusiasts, Ratcliffe wanted to continue to offer a vehicle similar to the original Defender. In fact, he even tried to buy the rights to the old Defender from Land Rover, but was turned down.

Jim Ratcliffe

Jim Ratcliffe

Ineos teamed up with Austria’s Magna Steyr to develop the Grenadier. Magna helped Mercedes-Benz develop the G-Class and still produces the iconic SUV to this day, so it’s no surprise that the Grenadier also bears some resemblance to the G-Class. Many tests took place in the same Austrian mountains where the development of the G-class takes place, including the famous Shokl.

The Grenadier is based on a body-on-frame platform, solid axles with Panaro front and rear links and progressive coil springs. To reduce weight, the body is made of a mixture of aluminum, high-strength steels and even some composites. Both a regular SUV and a pickup truck are planned.

Ineos plans just one powertrain for the U.S., a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 ​​from BMW. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic and an all-wheel drive system with a 2-speed transfer case. Diesel is offered in other markets and may be further down the road also have electricity.