Car manufacturer Ineos Automotive has halted plans to build its new Grenadier 4×4 in South Wales.
The plant in Bridgend was supposed to start building the vehicle in 2021, as reported by Car Dealer, but the company has now expressed an interest in the Hambach site in Moselle, France, being sold by Mercedes-Benz.
Ineos Automotive is controlled by chemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and its factory was expected to create 500 much needed jobs in the Welsh town where Ford only recently closed its engine plant.
The Ineos Grenadier was only revealed last week as a utilitarian off-roader and takes some influence from popular models in this category such as the Mercedes G-Wagon and Land Rover Defender.
The vehicles were to be assembled in Wales with the chassis made at a separate Portugal site and petrol and diesel engines coming from BMW.
Ineos Automotive chief executive Dirk Heilmann said: ‘Overcapacity has long been a major issue for the automotive sector.
‘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.
‘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 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.’
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said: ‘It’s obviously extremely disappointing that Ineos are casting doubt on the investment in Bridgend, having worked with the Welsh government community and others to try and secure investment there with money that’s been spent.
‘And if they do go ahead and decide not to make that investment then that would be a really significant step backwards for Bridgend and a very difficult day for people looking to their future.
‘There are continuing conversations being led by the economy minister Ken Skates with the company and I think he’s going to have more to say on that in the coming hours.’
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