Tata and Mahindra to participate in Indian army's future utility vehicle tenders

Defence & Security News - India
Tata and Mahindra to participate in Indian army's future utility vehicle tenders
The Tata Safari Storme and Mahindra Scorpio have cleared rigorous trials to participate in Indian army tenders, officials said to the Indian newspaper Economic Times. The Indian army is expected to shortly invite bids to supply vehicles under a contract that could be worth as much as $811 mn to $1.2 bn.
Tata and Mahindra enter competition for Indian army utility vehicle tenders 640 001 Mahindra Scorpio military utility vehicle
The Indian army, which so far relied on Maruti Suzuki's Gypsy and the Mahindra Commander, had called for a new category of vehicles called GS800 (General Service 800). About 15 companies including Ford, Honda and Toyota participated in the initial discussions two-three years ago, but only the homegrown players, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra, took part in the following round.

The Indian army is looking for vehicles with hard top and 800 kg payload with an air-conditioning option. The Gypsy and Commander had in the past qualified under GS500 category, which had a maximum payload of 500 kg. Vernon Noronha, head of defence and government business at Tata Motors, said the company has received intimation from the Army that the Storme has passed the test and will be allowed to bid in a tender for more than 3,200 vehicles, expected to be floated shortly.

Pravin Shah, CEO of Mahindra's automotive division, said supply to the army isn't new to the company and that since the Scorpio has also now qualified the tests, the company is hopeful of getting new orders. The Army is expected to invite bids within a month for 3,249 vehicles in the first year, with an option to increase the order by more than 50%, industry executives said. Army and government officials couldn't be reached for comment.

The expected army order is coming at a time when India's automobile market is going through a weak phase. Though the companies say supplying to the army is more of a prestige issue than volume play, a large order will still be a boon for these companies.

The vehicles developed by Tata Motors and Mahindra for the Army are built on their existing platforms. But, they are designed to meet the requirement of the Army with black out lights and convoy lamps, with provisions for water and ammunition. The vehicles have hooks in the rear for towing military equipment too.

After completing the technical evaluation, the vehicles were put through field trials in different weather conditions and terrains. Tests included technical and maintainability trials.

Recently, the army ordered 4,100 units of the Gypsy, the biggest order for the car since Maruti started supplying it in 1991. Since the Gypsy qualified under the GS500 category, it wasn't part of the GS800 category. It is unclear whether the army would order more vehicles under the GS500 category.

(Source: Economic Times)