The might be an all-electric version of the Ineos Grenadier after all.
Mark Tennant, commercial director of Ineos Automotive, told Automotive News Europe the company will begin testing an EV prototype of the SUV later this year.
The automaker will also start testing a hydrogen fuel cell version of the Grenadier around the same time. Ineos and Hyundai are working together to “explore together new opportunities in the hydrogen economy”.
Tennant says the electric powertrain “will probably add a ton of weight, but the battery tech is changing”. He also noted “we do not know where the market is going”.
Dirk Heilmann, CEO of Ineos Automotive, told the trade publication it still believes “hydrogen fuel cell is a better way to fuel an electric vehicle because of its lower weight and greater capability”.
He did concede there could be “very specific” niches for an electric Grenadier, such as “off-highway, specialist applications where range does not play a role — the mining industry, for example”.
It should be noted Ineos has investments in the production of hydrogen, producing around 400,000 tonnes of the fuel every year, and has been lobbying governments to invest in hydrogen infrastructure.
As Ineos Automotive is classified as a small volume manufacturer it is able to escape the EU’s mandate for new car fleets to meet its 95g/km CO2 target or face hefty fines.
Despite this the company still needs to negotiate a CO2 reduction target with the bloc, and for this it needs to have a low or zero emissions vehicle in its range.
Production of the Grenadier begins this year at Smart’s old factory in Hambach, France. At launch the SUV will be powered turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol and diesel engines from BMW.
As a small manufacturer, the company is limited to selling 22,000 commercial vehicles and 10,000 passenger cars in Europe per annum.
To make best use of its sales cap, a dual-cab ute is in the works, as are two- and five-seat van variants of the SUV.
Converting an existing model into van is a well-known workaround for Europe’s strict carbon emissions target for passenger vehicles.
For example, the popular Suzuki Jimny is currently only available on the Continent as a two-seat van with a flat boot floor and a partition to protect passengers from cargo.