Ineos secures Hambach site for Grenadier

11 December 2020

Ineos Automotive has confirmed its acquisition of the Hambach manufacturing facility from Mercedes-Benz. The French site currently produces the Smart EQ ForTwo, and, as of late 2021, will begin making the Grenadier 4×4, Ineos’ answer to the Land Rover Defender.

Back in September 2019, there had been talks of the startup building its new vehicle in Bridgend, Wales. At the time, Ineos Group chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, highlighted the decision to build in the UK as an expression of confidence in British manufacturing. But it would appear the allure of Europe was too strong for the Brexit-backing chemicals magnate.

‘Hambach presented us with a unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce,’ said Ratcliffe. ‘Ineos Automotive set out a vision to build the world’s best utilitarian 4×4, and at our new home in Hambach, we will do just that.’

Meeting delivery dates

Ineos identified Hambach as the ‘ideal facility for production of the Grenadier’. The modern manufacturing site recently benefited from a major upgrade, which allows for the production of larger vehicles. The plant is also home to a highly experienced and capable workforce, with a track record for quality work under Mercedes-Benz.

Given the site’s location on the border of France and Germany, only 200km from Stuttgart, Ineos will have access to key supply chains as well as target markets. ‘This acquisition marks our biggest milestone yet in the development of the Grenadier,’ said CEO Dirk Heilmann.

‘Alongside the exhaustive testing programme that our prototype vehicles are now undergoing, we can now begin preparations at Hambach to build our 4×4 from late next year for delivery to our customers around the globe.’

ForTwo continues

Scheduled for delivery in early 2022, the Grenadier has been designed to fill a gap in the market as a stripped-down, utilitarian 4×4. But under the terms of the acquisition, Ineos will also be contracted by Mercedes-Benz to continue producing the Smart EQ ForTwo, as well as some additional components, at the Hambach plant.

Combined with manufacturing plans for the Grenadier, this will mean some 1,300 jobs remain at the site, including commitments to on-site suppliers. ‘The Hambach plant was part of the Mercedes-Benz Cars global production network for more than 20 years,’ said Jörg Burzer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz, responsible for production and supply-chain management.

‘The highly competent team has successfully mastered many vehicle launches and stands for experience and quality. I am therefore all the more pleased that we have found a buyer in Ineos Automotive, which will lead the Hambach plant into the future.’ Burzer explained that by realigning and relocating capacity within its production network, Mercedes-Benz would be able to increase its efficiency in a sustainable way.

‘In selling the Hambach plant, our goals were to continue production of the current electric Smart models and to secure employment at the facility. We achieved both goals,’ he added. ′My thanks and best wishes go to the employees at Hambach, who, with their know-how and commitment, contributed to the success of Mercedes-Benz and Smart for many years and will now continue to produce top-quality vehicles with a new owner.’

11 December 2020