The Ineos factory will be built on a green field site next to the Ford engine plant - visible top left - scheduled for closure at the end of 2020

The Ineos factory will be built on a green field site next to the Ford engine plant - visible top left - scheduled for closure at the end of 2020

A new automaker is to build a 4x4 vehicle in Bridgend Wales, next door to the doomed Ford engine factory slated for closure at the end of 2020.

Ineos Automotive said its utilitarian 4x4 will be named Grenadier after the pub in which it was conceived and will be built in a bespoke new factory on the green field site.

This will create 200 jobs initially, and up to 500 in the long term. Site development is now under way to support the planned start of production in 2021.

Ineos Group chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe (described by Reuters as a pro-Brexit billionaire and Britain's third-richest person) said in a statement: "We have looked long and hard at possible manufacturing locations for Grenadier across the world with lots of good options to choose from. 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."

Welsh government economy and transport minister Ken Skates said: "The Welsh government has worked closely with the company to make this happen and I look forward to seeing the development of the new site progress ahead of the planned start of production."

Ineos will also build a sub-assembly plant in Estarreja, Portugal which will produce the Grenadier's body and chassis, working in conjunction with the automaker's European supply chain.

CEO Dirk Heilmann said: "Confirming production in the UK, as well as our investment in Portugal, is a major milestone for the project. We are progressing well with the design and engineering work, as well as our marketing and distribution plans. In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing more information about the Grenadier, and engaging with local suppliers."

Ineos is a petrochemical company.

Reuters reported the Grenadier project would cost GBP600m (US$747m) project and was prompted by the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) decision to stop making its classic Defender 4x4 in 2016 after 68 years, ahead of the replacement launched earlier this month, prompted the petrochemicals giant to announce plans for its own vehicle.

The old Defender was made in the UK, at Solihull; its replacement will come from the new European JLR plant in Slovakia.

Reuters noted Ineos' investment came in a mixed year for the UK auto sector after a roughly GBP1bn pound decision by JLR to build electric cars but plans by Ford (Bridgend engine) and Honda (Swindon car and engine) to close factories.

The news agency noted that, as a supporter of Brexit, Ratcliffe joins a sector whose members overwhelmingly backed remaining in the European Union prior to the 2016 referendum and have since been amongst the most outspoken critics of a no-deal departure, which could happen in October.

Every day, thousands of cars, components and engines move between Britain and the continent, with many parts arriving at production lines just moments before they are fitted to models, meaning any border delays would snarl up production.

Engines for Ineos' Welsh-built car, which should eventually reach output of 25,000 vehicles a year, will come from Austria.

The company told Reuters the investment, which is being supported with some government money, would work under any Brexit eventuality.

"By the time we get to manufacture, whatever has happened will have happened and the non-tariff barriers will have been overcome or we will have worked our way round them," corporate affairs director Tom Crotty told Reuters.

"We would like there to be a deal whether that's a [British prime minister] Boris [Johnson] version of [previous PM] Theresa [May]'s deal that gets through in the next few weeks or whether we crash out without a deal and then there are lots of side-deals done," he added.

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