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Interview: IronScorpion HMV

Military-spec 4x4 to be offered for sale in India very soon

IronScorpion HMV, a joint venture between Sarbloh Motors in Chandigarh and US-based off-road automotive company Preferred Chassis Fabrication Inc. are gearing up to launch the country’s first road-legal off-roader, the Scorpion at the RFC this year.

What does Preferred Chassis specialise in?
“Started way back in 2003, Preferred Chassis was formed as a company that specialises in vehicle fabrication along with engineering, and designing new vehicles. The company also undertakes special projects and has built a number of vehicles for military use, including the Scorpion. Back in 2008, the Scorpion was a concept vehicle and we at Preferred Chassis took up the challenge to develop the Scorpion into a production spec off-road vehicle.

What is the Scorpion all about?
“The Scorpion is a purpose-built hardcore off-roader, which can double up as a daily driver if you are an absolute off-road maniac and find driving on tarmac to get to office pretty boring. It gets two engine options, a petrol and a diesel engine and is built on a tubular chassis. In terms of suspension, the Scorpion has a patented suspension that connects the front and rear axles through a set of linkages and equaliser bars and uses their pivot points to locate the body when the axles articulate, thus maximising traction to all four wheels. While off-roading, the weight of the vehicle shifts diagonally through the chassis, giving it a lot more stability and since all the four wheels get traction, the Scorpion powers out of any obstacle with ease. In terms of off-road capabilities, the Scorpion is a beast. It has a 52-inch articulation and a 12-degree chassis roll.

How does the Scorpion fair off-road when compared to conventional off-road custom builds?
“When you talk about conventional off-roaders, they are basically modified CJs, FJs or Jimmys. So you cannot drive them on-road and if they are not modified, then their off-road potential is limited to soft-roading. Here is where the Scorpion fits in. In its stock avatar, the Scorpion can tackle the toughest of obstacles and terrains. Also in terms of off-road capability, the Scorpion has a very agile suspension, when compared to other modified vehicles, which gives it a huge advantage both off and on-road.

Why bring the Scorpion to India?
“The idea of taking up the Scorpion project in 2008 was to develop the vehicle and bring it to as many customers as possible. For the last four and a half years Sarbloh Motors and Preferred Chassis have been testing the Indian waters and now since the off-road environment in the country is growing, it seems like a good time to bring the Scorpion into the Indian off-road arena.

What plans for the launch at RFC?
“Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India is one of the most gruelling off-road competitions in the country. The best off-roaders battle it out for a free entry to the mother event in Malaysia. So we decided that RFC will be the most suitable platform to showcase the Scorpion. IronScorpion HMV will also be participating in the event and I will be driving with Jaskirat as my co-driver. This way we can also showcase the off-road capabilities of the off-road monster as well.

Will it be road legal?
“Yes, the Indian-constructed Scorpion will apply for type approval from ARAI. The Scorpion, being a true all-terrain vehicle, is very road friendly as well as extremely capable on special tracks and extreme off-road terrains. We are still working on various ways to comply with the Indian laws, but the only major noticeable change on the vehicle will be that it will get a right-hand drive configuration instead of left-hand drive that is sold in the US. Incidentally, Scorpion is road legal in USA and complies with all regulations.
Pricing plays an important role in the Indian context, any developments on that front?
“Yes, we have been discussing a lot about the pricing. We have not yet narrowed down on the price bracket as yet. But the Scorpion will not be cheap, that is for sure, because we would like to maintain the high quality and performance of the vehicle. But having said that, the Scorpion will be reasonably priced, keeping in mind the Indian customer.

What are your future plans?
“It has taken around four years to finally get here and now we want to get on with things, especially in terms of logistics. We are working hard to get things in place and hopefully by the third quarter of 2017 we shall have our manufacturing unit and suppliers in place. Our aim is to localise as many of the parts as possible, like the chassis, framework and metal sheet. The rest of the stuff will be imported from here as kits. Since we are setting up a manufacturing facility here in India, we plan to roll out around 2 to 3 vehicles per month. The Scorpion was the vehicle that set the ball rolling for the tube buggy craze in the US and other parts of the world. We hope that bringing the Scorpion to India will pioneer a whole new breed of off-roaders in the country.

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