Ineos Wants to Sell and Maintain 4×4 SUVs Through Tractor Dealers
It’s kind of like old International Harvester trucks, when you think about it.
When it comes to selling vehicles, it's not as simple as just lettings customers walk in and place an order. In much of the world, the dealership model mandates that intermediates get involved, taking their pound of flesh in the process. Setting up a dealer network is a big job, one that's beyond many smaller automakers. Instead of going through all that, Ineos is planning to sell its Grenadier off-roader through agricultural outlets.
The company has assembled a motley bunch of agricultural equipment dealers and used dealers to sell its products in the United Kingdom. Twenty-four sites have been announced that will cover sales, parts, and service for Ineos customers. It's an important step for the burgeoning Ineos Automotive operation, spawned from the Ineos parent organization, which is the fourth-largest chemical company in the world.
It's an unusual way of doing business, but one that makes sense given the demographic the brand caters to. It's a simple, barebones off-roader that takes some inspiration from the classic Land Rover Defender of years past. However, the Grenadier is a unique design, borne out of the simple fact that Jaguar Land Rover wouldn't sell the company the tooling for the classic Defender when it went out of production in 2016. The design is similar enough that Land Rover attempted to sue, but the case failed to stop Ineos from going ahead.
Given that the Land Rover Defender was commonly seen doing farm duty around the U.K., it makes sense that Ineos would target this market directly with its spiritual successor. Country areas like Lincolnshire, Lancashire, and Somerset will all be served by an Ineos location, with the company establishing a presence in big cities like Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Nottingham too. London itself will have three Ineos dealers, as per the initial plan.
Gary Pearson, head of UK, Middle East, and North Africa for Ineos Automotive, notes that a traditional dealer setup isn't the right one for Ineos. "The usual approach for setting up a network is to use ‘drive-time’ data to place dealers as close to as many customers as possible, and that’s why we end-up with auto clusters all in the same place,” Pearson told Autocar. “The cocktail we’re trying to shake here is the right partner, with the right mind-set, in a place that works, with resources that are useful to us and our customers."
Due to start production later this year, the Grenadier comes with a choice of two engines, both from BMW: a 3.0-liter turbodiesel or a 3.0-liter gasoline turbo-six. They're good for 245 horsepower and 281 hp respectively, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF. There are also rumors of a potential hydrogen-powered version, built in partnership with Hyundai.
Ineos has been pre-selling the Grenadier since July last year, through a combination of its online configurator and various shows and events. The company claims to have "over 15,000" reservations, taking a £450 ($555 USD) deposit in the process. Officially, Ineos will start taking orders on May 18, as reservation holders will be contacted to choose their preferred dealer and close on a specific order.
While agricultural equipment dealers don't usually sell cars, they're nonetheless experienced at closing deals on machines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (or pounds). It's an industry that requires just as much careful management of the customer relationship as in the automotive world. In fact, some already sell automotive products, with one dealer in Lincolnshire already having an established Ssangyong showroom. “Our agricultural dealers are highly sophisticated and super experienced,” Pearson told Autocar.
With the Grenadier sitting proudly in established agricultural dealerships, it should give the company plenty of exposure to its prime market. Paired with a presence in the bigger British cities, too, and the company should have good coverage of the U.K. in general. As for whether the public bites on a French-built 4x4 inspired by the classic Defender, time will tell.
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