ForTwo to 4x4: How Smart factory became home to Ineos Grenadier

ForTwo to 4×4: How Smart factory became home to Ineos Grenadier

Part of Ineos’s success has been to assemble a crack team of manufacturing experts. Torseke was a director at NEVS before joining Valmet Automotive, the Finnish firm that for years made the Boxster and Cayman for Porsche. CEO Philippe Steyer has worked in operational roles for Mercedes, often at Hambach, for 20 years. Stefan Bruhnke, who heads up quality control, is another ex-Mercedes man.

Inheriting cutting-edge kit meant originally for EQA production has also helped, and most likely it’s this (along with Hambach’s proximity to suppliers) that prompted Ineos to abandon Wales in favour of France.

While many of the factory’s processes in themselves are at the sharp end of modern mass-market manufacturing, the Grenadier remains a straight-forward prospect. By Torseke’s admission, the most advanced element of the construction is the casting that sits within the rear door, onto which the spare wheel is mounted. It’s an idea that Mercedes pioneered on the latest G-Class and makes the area more robust. The Grenadier is otherwise a rudimentary body-on-chassis affair, like the original Defender. The difference is that spot welding and particularly the automation of the bodyshop are a world away from the processes used to build the Defender, which even in 2016 – the final year of production – involved hammers and spanners to some extent.

The job now for Torseke and co is to push through to PT02, which will involve another 130 prototypes being built, on top of the 130 made during PT01. Vehicle development will also continue during this time, with 1.1 million miles anticipated.

It’s during PT02 that Hambach will accelerate to the operational speed necessary for the Grenadier venture to be commercial.

That 300-second cycle time will eventually become quite rigid. And after that? Then it’s time for customer cars, which should be in the hands of the first owners by September. What sort of people those customers will be and how they will choose to use their Hambach-made Grenadiers remains to be seen.