If safety is of paramount importance for the rich and powerful while on the move, India’s largest vehicle maker, Tata Motors has introduced an armoured variant of its Safari, which can even resist an assault of an AK-47 rifle.
The new variant of the Safari, Tata Motors’ ageing sports utility vehicle, is one of the most affordable bullet-proof vehicles in the local market. It is available directly from the manufacturer at Rs 60 lakh.
At the same time, the new Safari is more than seven times the price of a Bharat Stage IV Safari Dicor LX, priced in Mumbai at nearly Rs 8 lakh.
The armoured Safari, which is not indifferent in looks when compared to a normal Safari, can even withstand an underbelly hand grenade explosion, without causing any harm to the fuel tank, equipped with explosive suppressant material.
The vehicle, which has got NIJ Level III/B6 protection, can even run on flat tyres for 50 kilometres at a speed of 50-60 km/hour. Its bulletproof transparent areas like glass can also withstand a range of heavy loaded small arms such as a Kalashnikov.
The vehicle’s interiors sport plush leather, and its suspension systems are fine-tuned to manage the added weight of the armoury. The armoured Safari can run at a top speed of 150 km an hour and can ascend a slope of 60 per cent.
“Since the cost of the vehicle is so high, very few dealers invest to buy it and stock it in their showrooms. Such vehicles are not promoted by the manufacturing company but can be had after placing an order to a nearest dealer,” stated a Tata Motors dealer from the northern belt.
Although bullet-proofing of a vehicle can be got done by the owner from the open market by a third-party vendor, this is perhaps the first time that Tata Motors launched an armoured vehicle fitted with an in-house armoury system for the public.
The company has been supplying such vehicles for the armed forces. Some of these are already in service with the Special Protection Group (SPG) and some elite security agencies.
Tata Motors last year launched the armoured versions of the Discovery and Range Rover model from the Land Rover stable. These were, however, priced at a significant premium between Rs 3.75 and 4 crore. The two vehicles can also deliver the same B6 level ballistic and blast protection like the Safari, which is sold for less than one-sixth the price.
Demand, although is expected to be low in numbers will flow in the ministerial class and from high income individuals such as businessmen.