The cottage industry catering to the classic 1948-2016 Land Rovers has grown in the four years since classic Defender production ended. Companies in the U.K., U.S. and elsewhere are hauling dilapidated old Land Rovers out of barns and garages. They are rebuilding them with modern components and selling them for six-figure prices. The business is so lucrative that even Jaguar Land Rover’s classic division is restoring and modifying customers’ classic Defenders.
It’s this Defender-mania that the Grenadier is hoping to capitalize on. If all goes according to plan, the Grenadier will start production sometime in 2021 and arrive in the U.S. the following year with two models — an SUV and a stubby short-bed, four-door truck. U.S. distribution plans have not yet been worked out. The thinking is to “land and expand,” said Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive’s commercial director. That is, the company would start sales, possibly direct to consumers in markets where demand for rugged SUVs is highest.
During a media preview of the 2021 Grenadier, company officials said the vehicle has been designed to be capable, durable and reliable.
They said the Grenadier’s bill of design was inspired by the same requirements that created the original 1940 U.S. Army jeep — the exact vehicle after which Rover Co. patterned the original Land Rover.
“From the earlier discussions about the old Land Rover Defender being retired, [we said] could we do something similar because we believe there is a gap in the market,” said Tennant.
“What we wanted to do is get back to a simpler concept where off-road capability takes precedent. We were really very focused from an early stage making a vehicle that would stand on its own four tires. You look at the vehicle, and you know that’s what it is intended for. There’s a really strong sense of purpose in the design,” he said.
There will be at least one major difference between the Grenadier and the classic Defender — the interior. The Grenadier will have connectivity and screens, and will have a refined, spacious and comfortable interior, says Dirk Heilmann, Ineos Automotive CEO.
Even if the Grenadier comes to market in its current form, it could still face a bumpy ride. It will have to contend with the new crop of tough off-roaders, such as the Ford Bronco, the electric GMC Hummer SUV, a pair of off-road-capable vehicles from Rivian, the evergreen Jeep Wrangler and the new Defender.
Says Heilmann: “We have a massive task in front of us, building the brand and making sure everyone understands what the proposition is, what the vehicle is about and what we are about.”