Aussie-designed concept to go global

words - Bruce Newton
Tata Xenon Tuff Truck promotes Indian brand to the public and Walkinshaw design capability to Tata

A concept version of Tata’s Xenon ute designed in Melbourne has impressed the company’s bosses in India so much they want to display it not only at February’s New Delhi motor show but other international motor shows in the region, potentially leading to a production version for global markets.

The Tata Xenon ‘Tuff Truck’ is a concept developed in just three months by Julian Quincy – best known for his work on Commodore-based V8 models from Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) -- and the team at the Walkinshaw Automotive Group (WAG).

Originally scheduled appear at the cancelled Melbourne motor show in June and now due to make its global debut at the National 4x4 & Outdoors show at the Melbourne Showgrounds this morning, the Tuff Truck is designed to promote the relaunch of the Tata Xenon light commercial vehicle range by its new distributor Fusion Automotive.

Fusion Automotive is a division of the Melbourne-based Walkinshaw Group, just as WAG is. Fusion commissioned WAG to produce the Tuff Truck and it also has performed engineering services in testing the standard 2.2-litre turbo-diesel Xenon for Australian conditions.

Importantly, Fusion gained the support of Tata Motors for the Tuff Truck. Indian HQ was kept constantly in the loop as Quincy and his crew rushed through the rapid-fire program.

At the moment there is no plan for the vehicle to become a production model, or for individual elements of the design such as the integrated snorkel to be made available as accessories. But it has impressed Tata enough for its Indian HQ to ask it be shipped to Delhi for the bi-annual Auto Expo, which is India’s biggest motor show. understands the Tuff Truck concept is also destined for motor shows outside India and, depending on the reaction in those markets, is a serious chance to go on sale internationally. 

“Fusion has a unique opportunity to be different to any other distributor globally because we have an engineering arm to our business and we have a design arm to our business,” Fusion Automotive Managing Director Darren Bowler told at a preview of the concept earlier this week.

“Tata Motors is very excited by that and the opportunity that represents for us here in Australia. Where that goes in the future … there is a lot of discussion in place, there are a lot of opportunities that we think are there and there are lot of opportunities that Tata Motors think are there.

“At the moment this is purely a concept and we are just gauging reaction,” Bowler cautioned. “That (the 4x4 show) will give us an indication whether there is an opportunity in the market for this.”

The Walkinshaw Group, which also owns HSV and has racing and performance divisions, already provides confidential consulting design and engineering services to Chinese and Indian automotive firms.

The Tuff Truck is purely an exterior cosmetic exercise with no revisions to the dual-cab’s sheetmetal, interior, 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, 4x4 drivetrain or suspension – apart, in the latter case, from fitting bespoke 20x9.0-inch alloy wheels and Cooper Zeon LT 275/45 R20 rubber.

The Tuff Truck has a unique body kit and accessories pack including the WAG-designed wheels, snorkel, bonnet scoop and sports bar. Narva supplied the roof, driving and spot lights.

The front intake is lower and wider than standard, the bumper is more aggressive and an aluminium skid plate incorporates a winch and tow hooks. The side skirts and rear bumper are WAG designs.

Satin Arden paint sourced from the Tata-owned Jaguar-Land Rover’s colour palette finishes off the look, contrasting with a dark hose-down lower element.

The wheels were machined by supplier Dragway from billet aluminium. The roof rack, snorkel and wheel caps were 3- printed in ABS plastic, while the grille was CNC milled from the same material. The bumpers are fibreglass.

The design work was completed using CAD and full-size clay modelling at Walkinshaw Group’s Clayton headquarters.

“What we wanted to do was take the Xenon, give it an Australian twist and up the 4x4 factor in the visual presence of the vehicles,” said Quincy. ”This vehicle is very much tailored for the Australian market so it is a bit more out there with the aggression factor and the stance.”

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Published : Friday, 23 August 2013
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