Ineos Blow For UK Plants

Tue 7th Jul 2020

Less than a week after the fanfare of the Ineos Grenadier reveal, the UK motor industry has received a blow after the company revealed it was reviewing its decision to build the 4x4 in Wales.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has forced many automotive manufacturers to reconsider their options and Ineos Automotive is no different in reviewing its strategy, with a Mercedes Benz site in France now looking the most likely option for both chassis manufacture and final assembly.

Bridgend in Wales had been earmarked as the home of Ineos’ final assembly plant, a boost for a region which had been hit hard after Ford had announced it was closing its plant in the region, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The Daimler factory in Hambach, France appeals to Ineos as it has had a recent refit with the technology to build larger SUV models.
“Of course we considered this route previously, but as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic some new options such as this one with the plant in Hambach have opened up that were simply not available to us previously,” said Ineos Automotive CEO, Dirk Heilmann. “We are therefore having another look – and reviewing whether the addition of two new manufacturing facilities is the right thing to do in the current environment.”

“Covid has had an impact on our build schedules,” added Heilmann, “with ground clearing works and construction held up by the social distancing measures that have been required. Safety is of course paramount, but we also have an obligation to do what is right for the business – and so need to assess these new opportunities in order to maintain or improve on our timelines.”

With the decision hanging in the balance, the UK government have moved quickly to try and protect the future automotive jobs in South Wales, with Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates saying: “I have told the CEO that abandoning Bridgend at this late stage, after so much effort and money has been invested in preparing the site, would be a terrible decision for Wales and the UK.

“We have worked closely with the company in good faith to secure the site in Bridgend and it would be a real blow if Ineos reneged on its very public commitment that it would be locating here.

“We have impressed on the company in no uncertain terms the importance of honouring its commitment to Wales and to deliver on its promise to build a British icon here in Britain.”