Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe’s successor to the Land Rover Defender could be made outside of Britain, with his firm in talks with potential partners in Europe for a manufacturing base.
Billionaire Ratcliffe announced details on his plans to develop a follow up to the Land Rover Defender earlier this year, with Ineos saying it had found a gap in the market for a successor to the vehicle. Land Rover stopped production on its famous 4×4 in January 2016.
In February, Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, said that the company hoped to create jobs in the north of England and was “committed to the UK manufacturing economy”.
But according to Sky News, the petrochemicals giant has held initial talks with a number of prospective partners in Europe as it looks for a manufacturing base for a new 4×4 vehicle outside the UK.
Sources told Sky News that Ineos will announce this week that it had started discussions for potential European locations, as it looks for a site that can produce at least 25,000 vehicles a year, but the UK was still the preferred manufacturing base.
During this week’s announcement, Crotty is expected to say that while Ineos would love the development to be a British vehicle, “this is a business venture and our hearts cannot be allowed to rule our heads”.
Ineos was approached for comment.
The company weighing its options for a manufacturing base comes with Brexit negotiations soon to get underway.
The UK car industry has been vocal in its concerns over the impact of Brexit, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders warning of the risks should Britain fail to secure a tariff-free deal and open borders, so products and parts can “flow freely”.