Maruti’s Gypsy on its way out; Tata Safari to be new Army vehicle
The Army will replace its iconic Maruti Gypsy fleet with a new range of SUVs, having selected the Tata Safari Storme for an initial order of close to 3,200 vehicles, which could increase 10-fold in the coming years.
While an official announcement is yet to be made, ET has learnt that Tata Motors beat off the Mahindra Group, which fielded its Scorpio SUV for the competition that kicked off in 2013. Both locally developed SUVs passed rigorous technical trials by the army, which tested the vehicles in all conditions – from high-altitude, snow-bound regions to deserts and marshy land.
However, the Tata Group appears to have presented a better financial deal to the army, which has sought to replace its fleet of Gypsy vehicles that are used extensively at the battalion level to transport troops and officers.
The army has over 30,000 Maruti Gypsy vehicles in service and will progressively replace them starting next year. “The initial order is for 3,198 new SUVs but the total number is likely to go much beyond that. The army prefers a single model across its units and formations as it is easier on logistics,” an official involved in the process told ET.
While the Gypsy has been an army favourite for its ability to navigate tough terrain, the need was felt for a new SUV with additional safety features and more power that runs on diesel, a fuel that’s more readily available, given its large fleet of trucks and heavy-duty vehicles.
Once signed, this will be the second major order for Tata Motors this year, having bagged a Rs 1,300 crore deal in January to supply high-mobility military trucks for the army. The 6×6 high-mobility vehicles can be used for various purposes – from transporting men and material to being the platform for multi-barrel rocket launchers and surface-to-air missile systems.