Chemical giant hopes to revive the Land Rover Defender

INEOS Land Rover Defender

Jim Ratcliffe — the billionaire owner of chemical giant INEOS — is a man with a thought. A thought that the Land Rover Defender “can be upgraded to be the world’s best and most rugged off roader”.

Does this mean the iconic Defender could rise again? One thing’s for certain, INEOS doesn’t lack the financial clout required for such an ambitious project. Its website boasts of sales totalling $40 billion, with over 17,000 employees and activities across 65 sites and 16 countries. Make no mistake: Ratcliffe is a man who knows how to make friends and influence people.

Or rather, influence organisations. Today, INEOS has issued a press release saying it “has commissioned a full feasibility study into resurrecting the Land Rover Defender and held exploratory talks with Jaguar Land Rover”.

> More car news on Motoring Research

Is the Defender a national treasure – a car that should be left alone and consigned to the history books? INEOS believes not, claiming that while the exterior shape should be treated “like a listed building”, it can be made better, referencing the Toyota Land Cruiser’s reliability and Defender’s “superior off-road qualities”.

Could this signal an end for the gag about driving into the jungle in a Defender and driving out again in a Land Cruiser? Time will tell.

“I am a great admirer of the Land Rover Defender”, claims Jim Ratcliffe, who goes on to say: “Whilst it is early days, our plan has already attracted a huge amount of support from third parties across the globe.” With one eye on the export opportunity, INEOS hopes to build the new model in the north of the UK, preferably near a port.

Ratcliffe adds: “I am a passionate advocate of UK manufacturing and the Land Rover Defender has been a part of the British motoring scene for over sixty years. We want to breathe new life into it and make it even better than before.”

Last week, a Land Rover spokesperson told Autocar: “There is no way this is happening. We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.”

Anyone except billionaire Jim Ratcliffe? A spokesperson told Motoring Research: “Defender will always be Land Rover’s icon. Jaguar Land Rover have stated our intention to continue the Defender lineage with an all-new model. There is nothing further to add at this time.

“It is too early to start talking about the new Defender at this time. The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, and with a growing portfolio of models Jaguar Land Rover is confident we have the breadth of models to meet the demands of our global customer base.”

We suspect there will be a few twists, turns, ruts and fords in this tale. One to watch.

Has an unhealthy obsession with cars of the 80s and 90s. Doesn’t really do supercars. Not a huge fan of sports cars. But loves the undervalued and the underwhelming.

Is probably a bit strange.

Pin It
  • Fed24

    Frankly the man is naive if he thinks the Defender could be restored to production as a utility vehicle. It is not even close to being the best vehicle off road, it is costly to build and has been overtaken by many other 4×4 types.

    Many companies procured Defender for their utility fleets over the years but in the last fifteen when Land Rover switched to being a premium car firm they started to switch. Many discovered that 2 wheel drive vans with custom bodies were more then adequate for many roles being held by the Defender in their fleet. If a 4×4 was really needed there are other vehicles on the market that are cheaper to buy, maintain and offer superior utility.

    Further from that the manufactures still in the utility vehicle sector are now starting to realise that the ideal sweet spot is a van body with 4×4 running gear. The Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 is far better suited to the utility role than the Defender ever was which is why companies like SSE are filling their fleets with them.

    The Defender is a legend but its day is over.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I’m lead to believe that Land Rover has gone through a number of hands, such as Ford, BMW and now of all places Tata. To be honest, and this is speaking as an ex Defender owner, I wished that an alliance had occurred between a good Japanese company and the LR Defender. Toyota or Mitsubishi is who I was thinking of, and between them they could produce a Defender that had the look, the performance and that wonderful reliability that 4×4 drivers require.

  • Robert Turner

    My old landy is ok round the farm but frankly It has all the grace and charm of a badly built tractor