January 8, 2019 / 4:01 PM / 8 months ago

Ratcliffe's Ineos still to decide on plant location for new 4x4

A logo is pictured in the headquarters of INEOS chemicals company in Rolle, Switzerland, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LONDON (Reuters) - Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals firm Ineos has yet to decide where it will build its first off-road vehicle after media reports suggested last year that it could make the car in Wales.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) stopped making its classic Defender 4x4, known the world over and with famous owners including Queen Elizabeth, in 2016 after 68 years, prompting the petrochemicals giant to announce plans for its own vehicle.

In November, Ineos said it had had “European discussions” and planned to choose its manufacturing location by the end of 2018 but on Tuesday, the firm said a decision has yet to be made.

“Site evaluation still continues and no final decision has been taken,” the company said. “We will announce our decision in due course.”

Ineos founder and CEO Ratcliffe said in 2017 it would be cheaper to build the car in countries such as Germany where the workforce is already trained and suggested government support would be needed to ensure the plant happens in Britain.

Investment in Britain’s car industry looks very likely to have fallen in 2018, industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said, after drops in 2016 and 2017 as carmakers wait to see the nature of trading terms with the European Union after Brexit.

JLR is due to launch a new Defender which sources say will be built at the firm’s Slovakia plant.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

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