The profession of faith of Smart to the electric actuator has been of short duration. After the abandonment of heat engines, the small urban two-seater, which was supposed to revolutionise traffic in the city, would take its final bow in two years. And may be earlier than this since the group Daimler, owner of Smart, has announced the sale of its only factory dedicated to the brand.
The coup de theatre that follows a few hours after this surprise announcement is that Ineos, the british group of the billionaire pro-Brexit Jim Ratcliffe, could finally seize it. A fantastic story that the British have the secret. It is, in fact, build the future 4 x 4 of the young brand in France, and not in Wales as planned.
In a press release received by AFP, Ineos said, "discussions forward" with Daimler to buy out its plant in Moselle in Hambach, where it is produced the iconic Smart. It states "to suspend the work of its sites in Wales and Portugal" during these negotiations.
A volte-face dramatic that immediately triggered the "anger" of the british trade union Unite, which speaks of " treason ". A spokesman for Daimler has confirmed to AFP that" Ineos Automotive can be a potential buyer, and that we will pursue discussions ".
" Ineos Automotive reviews its manufacturing strategy for the new Grenadier in the light of the pandemic of Covid-19, which has delayed his plans ", but is "in the face of new opportunities in terms of existing structures that were previously not available," explains the british group.
Daimler had created consternation in France last week by announcing its intention to sell the site of the Smart in Hambach, which employs some 1 500 employees. The Economy minister Bruno Le Maire had called the manufacturer to " keep all options open ".
The Pomegranate, whose design was unveiled with great fanfare last week, is a bet of diversification for a group long remained discreet, specialized in petrochemicals, but tempted now to make a name for himself among the general public.
The Grenadier, with a heavy air of deja-vu, is not really in the novelty, rather in the nostalgia....
Ineos is investing approximately one billion pounds in the launch of this 4 x 4, while the automotive sector is going through a serious crisis. An astonishing contradiction – and this is not the only one – since the Pomegranate has been designed with the idea to replace the Defender by Land Rover, taking up a technique deliberately rustic, proven, and mission of the adventurer is, by far, the cannons, the environmentalists of the time.
The production of the vehicle was to start in the course of the next year in the factory at Bridgend in Wales. It is precisely in this city that Ford should close this year an engine plant which employs 1 700 people.
Ratcliffe, an expert in reniements
In full-Brexit, the union Unite has reacted strongly by pointing out another contradiction : "If Ineos is going back on its commitment to assemble the Grenadier in Bridgend, any claim of the group to commit themselves in favour of the United Kingdom will be thrown out the window. "
He recalled, in a press release that " Jim Ratcliffe has publicly supported the Brexit and affirmed that the country would prosper outside the european Union ". Unite therefore calls on Ratcliffe to " follow its own rhetoric and construct of the Grenadier in the United Kingdom. Any other decision would be " a betrayal ".
according to press reports, Ratcliffe would have moved to Monaco in February 2019, to avoid paying taxes on his fortune in the United Kingdom.
The reactions in France were on their side frosty.
" we announced a potential buyers, it has a name, that's all. What you need to know, it is his project, if he is going to keep all the world, in what conditions, when, if Ineos is committed to continue Smart that we must manufacture until 2022-2023, " commented Mario Mutzette, delegate CFE-CGC, joined by AFP.
" If it comes with a 4 x 4 electrical so much the better, but if it comes with a Grenadier, with a diesel engine, it doesn't fit with the image of the site of Hambach, which is a showcase eco-friendly with electric vehicles ", he added. Worse, the production site is modelled for the production of all small cars, the exact opposite of the Grenader, which is a large 4 x 4 4.70 m, built on a chassis level.
It features locking differentials and a permanent all-wheel drive. It is equipped with an automatic transmission ZF eight reports, and motors 6-cylinder engine supplied by BMW. It will be proposed that in 2021 at a rate estimated to be 45 000 euros with a penalty without a doubt as strong as his body, the clone of Defender of the previous generation.
The group had confirmed last week that it provided a model gas for the moment.
" It is necessary to avoid the degradation of the welfare state, it is necessary that the site live, it is not necessary to destroy it. Daimler has betrayed them as never before, it is suspicious, " insists Mr. Mutzette. The unions hope to have more details in the economic and social committee on Thursday, at 11 o'clock.
For their part, three deputies of the Moselle had said prior to the announcement of Ineos want to call Emmanuel Macron to "intervene on behalf of the Daimler ag and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel," to find a buyer for the site of Hambach.p> Updated Date: 08 July 2020, 01:33