Lux­ury van from DC

DC De­sign has cus­tomised a Tata Winger to suit the ex­act­ing re­quire­ments of a de­mand­ing cus­tomer.

Commercial Vehicle - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

DC De­sign has cus­tomised a Tata Winger to suit the ex­act­ing re­quire­ments of a de­mand­ing cus­tomer.

Tata Winger and Force Trav­eller are two prime can­di­dates as peo­ple movers in the In­dian mar­ket. They com­mand al­most the whole of van mar­ket in the coun­try to them­selves. So, it wasn’t sur­pris­ing when DC De­sign helped a real es­tate de­vel­oper to chose the Tata Winger as a plat­form for a cus­tomised ve­hi­cle that would suit his ex­act­ing re­quire­ments. The end re­sult ac­cord­ing to Dilip Ch­habria, Founder, DC De­sign, is an ‘Al­phard’ class of ve­hi­cle that goes much be­yond when it comes to an ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by a van. This one’s about of­fer­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence that is dis­tinct and de­sir­able, he men­tioned. With­out al­ter­ing the wheel­base of the Winger, DC De­sign has cre­ated a cus­tomised van that of­fers a ‘limo’ ex­pe­ri­ence through an ex­te­rior that seems to have been in­spired by a stealth fighter, con­sid­er­ing its wedge shape and a smooth sur­face through­out. Ex­pressed Ch­habria, that vans in In­dia are a pe­jo­ra­tive term. “Cus­tomers are will­ing to pay top dol­lar for the ‘Al­phard’ genre,” he added. For those who may not know, Al­phard is a flag­ship van of­fer­ing from Toy­ota. It is a lux­ury van pro­duced by the Ja­panese au­tomaker since 2002, and mar­keted as a lux­ury car for chauf­feur busi­ness. The Royal Lounge Al­phard Toy­ota

in­tro­duced in 2006 el­e­vated the plat­form a notch up by adding more ex­clu­siv­ity and lux­ury. In its third gen­er­a­tion, the Al­phard and its sportier ver­sion, the Vell­fire, are not only highly re­garded, but make a cov­eted piece of van cul­ture in many parts of the world.

To el­e­vate the hum­ble Winger, an ear­lier ver­sion of the Re­nault Trafic in terms of its mono­coque body con­struc­tion and front-wheel drive driv­e­line con­fig­u­ra­tion, it wasn’t easy. The brief, ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria, was for a high in­te­rior vol­ume, arm chair com­fort and a lounge am­bi­ence. To be pre­cise, the re­quire­ment was for a ve­hi­cle that of­fered a spa­cious stand­ing height in­side. This would in­turn have to be com­bined with an over­all di­men­sion where the pack­age would not be big­ger than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class in foot­print. It were these key points that tilted the scale in favour of the Winger, ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria. “We did con­sider the Trav­eller too, but the ex­act­ing re­quire­ments of the cus­tomer led to the se­lec­tion of Winger,” he averred. The Winger scored over the Trav­eller for its tighter di­men­sions, lower floor height, front-wheeler drive driv­e­line con­fig­u­ra­tion and a gen­eral per­cep­tion of be­ing more a fam­ily ve­hi­cle than the one that is used by in­sti­tu­tions

largely. It takes some time be­fore the smooth ris­ing roof-line and the smooth sil­hou­ette of the ve­hi­cle makes an im­pres­sion.

It is clearly in the di­rec­tion of a ‘mono’-vol­ume van. Driv­ing the point in place is the form. It nicely brings the form to the fore. If an im­pres­sion of the van stay­ing true to the motto of ‘form and func­tion’ that most au­to­mo­tive de­sign­ers have close to their hearts, is had, the cus­tomised lux­ury van, makes a dis­tinct im­pres­sion for cer­tain. Ac­count­ing for some unique de­sign el­e­ments where the front fas­cia has a sleek and wide ‘sin­gle slat’ grille, the van marks a de­par­ture from the large grilles adorned by most, the world over. In­clud­ing the Al­phard. In ad­di­tion to the sleek and wide ‘sin­gle slat’ grille, the pro­pri­etary bi-xenon head lamps add to the ‘mono’ vol­ume look the van ex­tends. A good con­trast are the round fog lamps built into the bumper.

The body, an­a­lysed and en­gi­neered by us­ing true-blue au­to­mo­tive pro­cesses, ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria, has the lux­ury van carv­ing out a unique iden­tity for it­self. If the large front glass rakes at al­most the same an­gle as the front lower half, the roof and the por­tion be­hind is where the real ‘lux­ury’ di­men­sions lie. Said Ch­habria, “In an ef­fort to get the ‘mono’ vol­ume ef­fect right, and with­out dis­turb­ing the di­men­sions of the stock winger, we re­duced the ‘tum­ble­home’. The re­duced ‘tum­ble­home’ frees up more in­te­rior vol­ume.” The smooth rise of the roof-line clears good amount of head room, and enough to pro­vide a stand­ing height. It, at the other end, pro­vides a dis­tinct wedge shaped ap­pear­ance to the ve­hi­cle. Leave for the large front wind­screen that of­fers very good vis­i­bil­ity, the other win­dows have been carved out such that they fall within the realm of the brief. They are not out of pro­por­tion in the over­all scheme of things, but tend to look a lit­tle small nev­er­the­less. The smart al­loys and low pro­file tyres add to the lux­ury quo­tient. They also un­der­line a touch of sporti­ness. The chrome han­dles make a cu­ri­ous case of em­bel­lish­ment for cer­tain. Re­vealed Ch­habria, “To achieve the right ef­fect, we ze­roed on an all-car­bon open piece body mould­ing. We also de­cided on an all-new flush bonded glaz­ings. The 20-inch dia. al­loys mark an in­crease of four sizes.” Draw­ing at­ten­tion to the elec­tric main sa­loon door, he re­vealed that the lux­ury van

will be used by the de­vel­oper for in­di­vid­ual com­mut­ing in grid­lock traf­fic, and for pro­mo­tional work.

To be also used to show­case the projects of the com­pany, the ve­hi­cle has been fit­ted with LED tail lamps. Tak­ing three months to shape up after an amount of time spent on pre­lim­i­nary work such as de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and tool­ing, the lux­ury van is a ver­i­ta­ble walk-in lounge, ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria. This, he stated, was fa­cil­i­tated by the lower floor and lower cen­tre of grav­ity. “The lower floor and lower cen­tre of grav­ity helped us to cre­ate a con­tem­po­rary en­ve­lope,” he added. Fol­low­ing his own guts rather than to bench­mark against cus­tomised lux­ury vans that pre­vail, Ch­habria worked on the premise that there is only 10 per cent room for cre­ativ­ity, the rest, dic­tated strictly by reg­u­la­tions and com­pe­ti­tion. “There was li­itle mar­gin for us to wan­der away from the broad norm of ‘form fol­lows func­tion’,” he said. Post the cre­ation of the nec­es­sary space, fo­cus was on cre­at­ing an in­te­rior that was lux­u­ri­ous and sooth­ing; was cool and even funky to an ex­tent. The key el­e­ments of the in­te­rior are an air­craft-like bezel roof with in­di­rect light­ing. If a three-seater sofa is ar­ranged just be­hind the driver par­ti­tion, the cap­tain chair faces it. It has its back to the rear. With large di­rec­tional air vents and read­ing lamps, the in­te­rior saw DC De­sign cre­at­ing a one PC plug for one PC vac­uum in­fused car­bon body struc­ture. “There’s large one PC side panel mould­ing with builtin han­dles and chrome ac­cents, averred Ch­habria. There’s also a con­fer­ence all-func­tion power seat­ing.

If an amount of ef­fort went into con­vey­ing a no-non­sense style on the out­side, the ef­fort for the in­te­rior was to en­sure a pri­vate jet be­spoke look and feel. It was, in fact, com­bined with a busi­ness lounge look, ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria. If the re­clin­ing cap­tain seat points at power and lux­ury, it also re­minds of the busi­ness-class seat on aero­planes. An in­ter­est­ing part of the van’s in­te­rior is the ul­tra high-end au­dio and power re­tract­ing video sys­tem. There’s pri­vacy par­ti­tion, and power drapes too.

The smooth ex­te­rior sur­face seems to have been in­spired by a stealth fighter.

The lux­ury van from DC De­sign of­fers a ‘limo’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

A three-seater sofa has its back to the driver com­part­ment and faces the cap­tain’s chair (right)

The ris­ing roof-line made for a wedge shape: it also pro­vided the nec­es­sary stand­ing height in­side.

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