Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos announced today it has brought German firm MBtech on board for work on its planned "spiritual successor" to the Land Rover Defender.
MBtech, a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, will become Ineos Automotive's engineering partner on Projekt Grenadier - the development of an "uncompromising 4x4" - and oversee all developments of the new vehicle.
Mbtech was founded in 1995 as Mercedes-Benz Technologies and works with a range of auto giants outside of its parent firm, including Porsche and BMW.
Dirk Heilmann, chief executive of Ineos Automotive, said:
Today’s agreement represents a very exciting step for Projekt Grenadier.
We have found a quality partner in MBtech who we believe have the competency, talent, and foresight to enable us to deliver a high-quality vehicle to the market. This deal will bring together German engineering and British entrepreneurship to create a truly formidable off roader.
By the spring, over 200 engineers will be working on the project in Stuttgart in Germany. Designing the car will now get underway, with a target for agreement on the car's specifications of mid-2018.
Henry Kohlstruck, managing director of MBtech, said: "The next six months are where the real work will begin as we take all the design variables into account."
Ineos is still mulling where to choose as the manufacturing site for the new 4x4, with the possible locations narrowed down. Ratcliffe has said ideally it would be made in the UK, but added it would want government support.
Last month, Ineos Automotive announced it had hired Bentley Motors' former marketing director to lead the marketing of its new 4x4.
Ineos's new commercial director, Mark Tennant, said: "It was the Land Rover Defender that first brought me into the automotive industry nearly 25 years ago, so to be part of the Ineos team developing a spiritual successor to the Defender and its fellow 4x4 pioneers is a great opportunity."