Below seven-figure MSRPs, it is anathema to sell just one kind of car. Economies of scale make the idea absurd, and besides, if you have one it, why not try to make it two, or four. Ineos has 15,000 reservations for its Grenadier truck, which is slated to begin deliveries to European customers in July. Incoming variants are certain to include a long-wheelbase SUV and a double-cab pickup. But earlier this year, execs said they were considering an electric version of the Grenadier, perhaps with just two doors and a market position below the launch vehicle. Seems that's got the nod, Autocar reporting Ineos will test battery-electric and FCEV prototypes before the end of the year.
The company had been focused on fuel cells, making a deal with Hyundai to potentially use the South Korean automaker's hydrogen powertrains. Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann told ANE, "For the Grenadier, hydrogen fuel cell is a better way to fuel an electric vehicle because of its lower weight and greater capability," especially useful for commercial vehicles where excess structural weight "becomes a bit of a problem" for payload ratings.
The trials later this year will help Ineos decide on powertrain and configuration. One primary reason for making a shorter two-door version electric is because the longitudinal BMW inline-six and ZF eight-speed transmission don't leave room to place a driveshaft "at a reliable angle." Axle motors would eliminated the problem. At the same time, an EV trim, even one marketed as being a little brother to the original Grenadier, wouldn't sacrifice the company's reason for being — stout off-road capability. Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of the parent company Ineos, said in an interview, "We need to embrace the future, which clearly in an urban environment is going to be electric. But even in a country environment, when you’re a farmer, you probably will have an electric car which you can drive around on tracks and things like that."
Heilmann had said that a hydrogen Grenadier wouldn't hit the market for another five years "at the earliest," and the company is still small enough to fly under the most stringent European emissions mandates, so the timing of any kind of electric trim could be a ways out. If the company decided it wanted to speed production, the same way it turned to BMW for an ICE powertrain, it could turn to Mercedes for electrics. Ineos holds a one-third share in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, and bought the Mercedes plant in Hambach, Germany to build the Grenadier.
For us, the first Grenadiers are penciled in for 2023. Whenever they arrive, they'll be gunning for shoppers comparing "top-end Ford Broncos and Jeep Wranglers." The way Wranglers and Broncos keep climbing up the price ladders makes it hard to know if that means there won't be much change from $55,000 or from $80,000. We hope to find out next year.