Van major Force Motors has come off a good second quarter (Q2-FY23). Ashish Bhatia shares how with the delivery time lines set for the Force URBANIA panel van, the company is setting itself up for growth in the business end of the fiscal and the quarters ahead.

Prasan Firodia, Managing Director at Force Motors

Setting aside the Covid-19-induced, delay in commercialisation of the T1N monocoque panel van, the company recently invited dealers from both India and abroad to visit a new state-of-the-art facility, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The dealers were given a test ride of the T1N that the company has named ‘URBANIA’. A marquee project for the company, it brings in a new platform with many segment firsts. First showcased at the Auto Expo 2020, in both a diesel and EV guise, the van has since resulted in high anticipation further built upon with the vehicle spotted doing test runs on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. The company has confirmed that the serial production has now commenced at the manufacturing facility specially created for the new platform. The first lot of vehicles would be shipped to dealerships. The pan India prices (Ex-showroom) of the URBANIA start from Rs.28.99 lakh. The medium wheel base (3615 mm) variant seating 13 excluding the driver is priced at Rs.28.99 lakh. The long wheelbase (4400 mm) variant seating 17 excluding driver is priced at Rs.31.25 lakh and the short wheelbase (3350 mm) variant seating 10 excluding driver is priced at Rs.29.50 lakh. To be made available across the country in the metros and mini-metros, the company in phase one will work with an installed capacity of 1,000 vehicles per month which can be increased up 2,000 vehicles per month.

Bringing in segment firsts

The URBANIA is claimed to be the first vehicle in this category in India to offer crash and rollover compliance with airbags for both the driver and co-driver as a testimony to the OEM going beyond the current Indian legislation that excludes the mandate. In addition, URBANIA comes with large ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels with ESP, ABS, EBD and ETDC to offer a high degree of safety for its passengers on board.

Prasan Firodia, Managing Director at Force Motors in the past has expressed high expectations from both the domestic and international markets. Having developed the van with global aspirations from the very beginning, the design is protected for plying in select markets of the Middle East, Africa, ASEAN and South America where the company expects it to be received as an excellent value proposition vis a vis high premium products like the Sprinter high-roof vans plying across markets like the EU, Far East and USA. No wonder, the creation and development of this ground-up modular monocoque van and the setting up of new state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities have had the company commit a total investment of over Rs.1000 crore.

The van is known to have had the Force Motors team working on the development of URBANIA with extensive consultation including with leading technology specialists, and domain experts across the globe, from Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany, Japan, and the USA. It is said to have improved, refined and validated this platform made in India, and to match international performance expectations, informed Firodia. The URBANIA had the team work on the next generation, international styling and body design to position it in the same league as leading international offerings. It brings along segment first, signature Daytime running lamps (DRL) which are LEDs , first-in-segment projector lamps and first-in-segment tail lamps with light guide technology expected to draw in second looks. The two-box construction of the platform helps to keep the engine fully outside to ensure the lowest NVH levels in the passenger compartment. For the first time in this segment, the van features an independent front suspension with transverse springs to give it superior, best-in-class ride quality.

The chassis and drivetrain

The next-generation modular monocoque panel van platform, in a segment first, is claimed to comply with crash, rollover and pedestrian safety regulations. It also offers the first in-segment, ergonomically designed cockpit with a carlike steering wheel that has a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column. The URBANIA is powered by the BSVI compliant, Mercedes-derived 115 hp, Common Rail Diesel Injection (CRDI). The engine develops a peak-rated torque of 350 Nm over a wide range, from 1400-2200 rpm. It also offers all-wheel disc brakes backed by ESP for detecting a skid and to counteract on it. The ABS helps steer the vehicle in emergencies by restoring traction on the tyres. EBD caters to the extent of braking needs on individual tyres. With ETDC, the vehicle offers the desired fuel economy, emissions compliance, drive ability and safety layers.

Also read, Changing The Paradigm

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