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The INEOS brand returns to its African roots

An idea conceived on the African Continent; INEOS Automotive now has headquarters in South Africa

By on 08 Nov 2023

As the story goes, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe was on an African safari when he noted most vehicles being used for this purpose were either Toyota Land Cruisers or original Land Rover Defender models, the latter legendary off-roader having recently ended its long-standing production run. Returning to the UK, Ratcliffe made enquiries to try and purchase the permissions from Land Rover to continue building the Defender under licence. With this request denied – and with the financial means to make it happen – Ratcliffe and a close group of friends from his broader INEOS empire met over drinks at the Grenadier pub outside of London to begin plans to design, engineer and build their own spiritual successor to the original Defender.

With a clear mandate to spare no expense when it came to making their vision a reality, INEOS Automotive’s first product, the Grenadier, would feature underpinnings sourced from legendary Austrian brand Magna Steyr, in-line six-cylinder powertrains from BMW and even seats supplied by Recaro. INEOS also purchased the ex-SMART assembly line in Hambach, France, as its new primary production facility.

Seven years later, with more than 1,6 million kilometres of testing mileage accumulated and order books for the INEOS Grenadier primed, the brand’s first 4 500 vehicles have been delivered.

Keen to establish a noteworthy presence on the African Continent, INEOS Automotive recently opened its Sub-Saharan headquarters at the V&A Waterfront, in Cape Town. This facility is also one of three dedicated showrooms and service centres for the brand currently in South Africa. Because the vehicle features a BMW powertrain, there are also five workshops from this German brand sited along major routes heading to and from South African borders able to offer servicing and assistance.

Positioned at the helipads on East Pier Road at the V&A Waterfront, the new INEOS showroom features a spectacular off-road driving course running alongside the breakwater aimed at affording potential customers a unique opportunity to test either the Grenadier or the forthcoming Grenadier Quartermaster double-cab bakkie in a suitably extreme environment before committing to a purchase. This built-for-purpose course features a section of axel twisters, a steep hill descent and even a water hazard to showcase the vehicle’s 800m wading depth.

Returning to its roots, INEOS has also recently purchased Kavango Engineering in Botswana, a company renowned for its safari vehicle conversions.

Interestingly, INEOS is also working on both an as-yet-unnamed all-electric SUV, as well as – via its partnership with BMW – a hydrogen-powered Grenadier SUV.

Established as a chemicals company, the INEOS brand also owns a significant share of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team, a professional cycling team and an America’s Cup sailing outfit.
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