Land Rover Defender's spirit lives on as billionaire pours cash into new off-roader
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe plans to start manufacturing a rugged off-road car in the style of Land Rover’s discontinued Defender in a massive investment that breaks new ground for his Ineos group.
Mr Ratcliffe made his fortune with the Ineos chemicals company but is known for his interest in the car sector and is a fan of the Defender.
He sees a gap in the market with the Defender going out of production a year ago and Land Rover not due to introduce a replacement until 2019.
Rumours have been circulating since last summer that Ineos had been considering a move into the car sector, though the company has been tight-lipped about its plans.
However on Monday Ineos confirmed it expects to spend “hundreds of millions” on the plan, which will move the company into a new sector.
Ineos has completed a six-month feasibility study into the project and believes it is viable, with hopes that the new car could be built in the UK, potentially creating 1,000 jobs in a new factory.
Calling it a “fantastically exciting project”, Mr Ratcliffe - one of the UK's richest men - said he wanted to “build the world’s purest 4x4 and we are aiming at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the world”.
The new vehicle will not be a replica of the Defender but will “reflect its philosophy” according to Ineos, which claims the car will “offer a real and pure alternative to the current crop of standardised jelly-mould SUVs”.