The Welsh/French Grenadier

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From our Swindon correspondent:

This is going to have remoaners frothing at the mouth:-

Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a Leave campaigner in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, has confirmed a new 4×4 vehicle will be built in France.

It ends hopes his Grenadier off-roader, based on the original Land Rover, would be made at a new plant in Wales.

Those plans were put on hold in July while Mr Ratcliffe’s Ineos Automotive negotiated buying Mercedes-Benz’s Hambach site, in Moselle.

He said on Tuesday that Hambach offered a “unique opportunity”.

So, the situation is that Mercedes sold the Smart brand to the Chinese in 2019 and Smart production is moving to China. Major car production is generally shifting away from Western Europe. Who is going to buy a car factory in France? Probably not one of the big guys.

Other than just converting it to a general factory or a warehouse, it’s not of much value. Very few people want to buy it as a car factory, which means that if you do, you’re going to get a bargain.

Chris Elmore, Labour MP for the Ogmore constituency in Bridgend, tweeted that Tuesday’s decision was a “crushing blow” for the area.

“The highly-skilled and dedicated workforce in Ogmore, Bridgend and surrounding areas would have risen to the challenge,” he wrote.

“That Brexit is clearly a major factor at play is a bitter pill to swallow. Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe was a vocal Brexiteer, loudly proclaiming the benefits of leaving the EU. Today, we can see his claims are as hollow as his promises.”

I’m sure the people of Bridgend would have done a sterling job, but buying this factory means he gets a team of people experienced in running a factory and making a car for years. That’s often highly specific domain experience, built up over decades. You have someone in Bridgend who has worked for a decade in a modern paint or weld area and can get it set up for a new car? Factory managers who can handle change to vehicle types?

And I doubt this has anything to do with Brexit. He wouldn’t have been talking about a factory in Bridgend 14 months ago if it was. He isn’t building these in Europe to avoid some tax on vehicles. These are going to be globally exported. He just got a factory and a workforce at a much lower expenditure than what he could get in Bridgend. He’d have been nuts not to do it.

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Michael van der Riet
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Michael van der Riet

If the local yokels are so hot, why don’t they apply for jobs in Moselle? Seeing as the EU is so superior to everywhere else, especially Ogmore and Bridgend.

maffski
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maffski

Given French employment laws it might even be the case that Daimler paid them to take the factory.

Spike
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Spike

The attempt to staple a moral to this story by Ratcliffe’s opinion on Brexit is like gadflies trying to make a point, when a celebrity catches Covid, showing the celebrity without a mask, or mentioning that the celebrity was part of the mask stampede. So Ratcliffe espoused X, the vote went / did not go / his way, and now he’s leaving the country! That’s really “all you have to know” – until you learn the rest.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Best of British luck to him, but how many of these is he expecting to sell? I get the impression JLR were making a couple of thousand Defenders a year, towards the end. One problem is that they never wear out (or get superseded by a newer model), so replacement sales are few.

is it all just a gimmick or a rich man’s toy?

Barks
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Barks

The very same reason Musk manufactures electric vehicles in California, one of the most business-unfriendly locations on earth. There was an unused plant, of recent vintage. and a management and work force, with recent and relevant experience, standing about, ready to be employed and available on the cheap (very cheap.)

Paul Marks
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Paul Marks

Is he high cost of energy in Britain a problem? The high cost of electricity? And the anti car agenda of the authorities? I do NOT know. But this whole affair seems very odd.