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Back From the Dead?

British Petro-Giant Wants to Revive the Land Rover Defender

If you thought the Land Rover Defender died after being discontinued in 2016, you might be wrong. Ineos, the British petrochemical giant, wants to enter the manufacturing world and build a truck modeled after Land Rover’s iconic Defender. Ineos CEO Jim Ratcliffe, however, is playing a game with Land Rover, as both parties are currently vying for a trademark on the Defender design—it is trademarked in many countries, but not yet in Britain.

If all goes as planned, Ineos wants to put $800 million dollars toward building 25,000 4x4s as early as 2020. Ratcliffe can either build the new off-roader in Germany, where the assembly facilities and trained workers already exist, or at home in Britain, where he would need to first build a dedicated factory.

If Ratcliffe wants to keep production in Britain, he needs help from the British government in covering the hundred-million-dollar price tag of a factory. Ratcliffe has already picked some potential sites on Britain’s east coast and expects positive feedback from the government.

Government support of his venture would be a welcome boost in the British car industry, which is currently facing uncertainty if Britain leaves the European Union. Rounding out what might seem like an outlandish plan, Ineos has the goal of becoming one of Britain’s largest carmakers, potentially doubling the output of smaller-volume brands like Aston Martin and McLaren.