July 7, 2020 / 9:48 AM / a month ago

Ineos considers French factory for first vehicle, puts UK on hold

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Ineos, which said last year it would build its first off-roader in Britain, will now consider whether to manufacture the vehicle in France after carmaker Daimler announced plans to sell a factory there as pressures mount amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Petrochemicals firm Ineos, which is run by pro-Brexit billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, said in the autumn that it would make the vehicle in Wales, creating up to 500 jobs, and that a new plant in Portugal would produce the body and chassis.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has seen demand for new vehicles around the world slump and worsened problems affecting overcapacity, just as the sector pumps billions into electrifying its model line-ups to meet stringent emissions rules.

German carmaker Daimler said on Friday it wanted to sell its factory in Hambach in northeast France, as it tries to cut costs.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic some new options such as this one... have opened up that were simply not available to us previously,” Ineos Automotive boss Dirk Heilmann said.

Ineos will review its options in the next few weeks, it said.

“We have therefore suspended the post-lockdown resumption of work at our sites in Wales and Portugal pending the outcome of this review,” the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by David Milliken)

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