Ineos founder and CEO Jim Ratcliffe said this Tuesday that he plans to build 25,000 new classic Defender 4x4s a year, which will be modelled on the Defender as the design is not currently trademarked in Britain.
Jaguar Land Rover stopped making the off-roader in 2016 after 68 years. However, a spokesman at JLR, which plans to build an updated version of the Defender, said the original design has been registered in many countries and a trademark application is currently under way in Britain.
If Ratcliffe succeeds in his plans, the automotive arm of Ineos would become one of Britain’s biggest domestic carmakers, with an output more than double that of long-standing small-volume brands such as Aston Martin, McLaren, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Ratcliffe said he would invest 600 million pounds (RM3.5billion) to begin output of his new off-roader from about 2020, saying he would prefer to build in Britain but that there are cheaper alternatives in countries such as Germany where the workforce is already trained and Ineos could use existing sites.
Ratcliffe identified a number of potential sites in Britain on the east coast, from Scotland down to the northern city of Hull, with a decision due before the end of next year.
The investment would also come as a welcome boost to the government as the car industry becomes increasingly concerned that its exports could face tariffs of up to 10 percent and borders checks if Britain leaves the European Union without a free trade deal, risking the viability of factories.