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Boost for UK car industry as 4×4 maker to create hundreds of jobs

by ace
Mock-up of the Ineos Automotive 4X4 vehicle plant in Bridgend

The British auto industry hit by Brexit is expected to give a big boost, with hundreds of jobs being created to build a new 4×4 in a city that will be abandoned by Ford.

Ineos Automotive, which is part of billionaire chemical tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe's trade empire, has confirmed it is setting up factories in Bridgend, South Wales.

The site is close to Ford's engine factory, which is expected to close – with the loss of 1,700 jobs – by September next year.

About 200 jobs will initially be created by Ineos, but this should increase to 500 when the vehicle is in full production.

The vehicle will be named Grenadier, named after a London pub where the idea was first discussed years ago.

Basis has already started on the £ 600 million project and production will begin in 2021.

It was expected that 25,000 grenadiers could be built annually.

Dirk Heilmann, chief executive of Ineos Automotive, said: "We are making good progress in design and engineering work, as well as in our marketing and distribution plans."

The decision to assemble the vehicle in Bridgend is a boost for the city, which has spurred competition from four other locations in the UK and other European countries.

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Ineos Automotive is part of Sir Jim Ratcliffe's business empire

It offers Ineos the opportunity to tap into Ford's city experience, which has denied suggestions it was closing its engine plant as a result of Brexit.

Ford argued that its aging factory was becoming "economically unsustainable" in the worldwide demand for electric vehicles.

Ineos said that while he preferred a Brexit deal to help smooth out Europe's flow of parts, he was prepared to "get his jaw" if the UK left the EU without agreement.

He said there is a long way to go to ensure that the engines of a BMW factory in Austria and the main chassis, to be shipped from Portugal, do not encounter potential problems.

One executive said: "Obviously we hope for a deal, but we are two years from the start of production so there is a lot of water under the bridge before that."

Ford engine factory near Bridgend in southern Wales after announcement of closing in September 2020
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Ford's engine plant near Bridgend is expected to close, with 1,700 jobs lost

Sky News revealed in February that Sir Jim met then-Prime Minister Theresa May for talks about the project in hopes of gaining government support, months after criticism of her personal tax affairs following her plans to move to Monaco.

Sir Jim said: "The decision to build in the UK is a significant expression of confidence in British manufacturing, which has always been at the heart of what Ineos stands for."

Ineos announced plans for a self-designed off-road after Jaguar Land Rover left Defender in 2016, only for the company to show off a new model earlier this month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Today's announcement from Ineos will offer hundreds of new jobs in Bridgend and is a vote of confidence in the UK experience, ensuring that we maintain our pioneering status in new vehicle technologies.

"Supporting our automotive industry is a top priority for this government, and we are working closely with industry to ensure it remains competitive and to put the UK at the forefront of the global push for zero emission."

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