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Tata’s one-off Australian ute

Show truck: There’s no production plans yet, but the local distributors have fingers crossed for Tata Tuff Truck Concept

Muscular Tata Xenon Tuff Truck Concept created and produced in Melbourne


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23 Aug 2013


THE local distributor for Indian industrial conglomerate Tata has sprung a surprise, unveiling a concept vehicle based on the forthcoming Xenon ute and developed in the suburbs of Melbourne.

On display at the National 4x4 and Outdoors Show and Fishing and Boating Expo in Melbourne this week, the (for now) one-off Xenon Tuff Truck Concept vehicle is under consideration for production at an undisclosed future date.

“We want to gauge public reaction first,” says Darren Bowler, managing director of newly appointed Australian Tata distributor Fusion Automotive.

“The acceptance I am looking for is brand appeal. If you look at the Xenon and the toughness and appeal that it offers in its segment, doing the Tuff Truck Concept immediately boosts that brand appeal from day one.

“But at the moment it is purely a concept. I’d love to put it in production someday. But the reality is there needs to be the market demand for it first.” Among other appearances, the Tuff Truck will star on Tata’s stand at the New Delhi International Motor Show next February.

Created in part to help launch the Tata brand nationally with a bang in Australia after years of low-volume distribution by Queensland dealer Upton’s Motors, the concept vehicle features a number of unique items created under the supervision of Julian Quincey of the Walkinshaw Automotive engineering and design centre in Clayton, Victoria.

Fusion is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walkinshaw Group of companies.

Using the production Xenon Dual Cab pick-up as a starting point, the Melbourne designers decided upon a satin finish grey known as Arden (from the Jaguar/Land Rover paint palette), contrasting with darker plastic cladding to help slim down the overall height.

They then took to altering or restyling all the non-metal and glass parts of the vehicle’s exterior.

Among the changes are a reshaped grille with a larger Tata badge finished set in a bright red background, re-designed front and rear bumpers, a new front air intake with an alloy skid plate featuring winch and tow hooks that are meant to give the Xenon a lower, wider, and more aggressive look, bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels (the largest that would fit beneath the flared arches) machined from a solid billet of aluminium, a unique roof-mounted light bar carrying a quartet of Narva LED Xenon lighting, and the de rigueur snorkel and sports bar out back.

Daytime driving lamps, as part of a set of driving lights, complete the Tuff Truck Concept’s visual modifications. There are no cabin changes from the production vehicle at this stage.

The Walkinshaw team used a full-sized clay model Xenon, and employed latest 3D printing technology for the roof rack and snorkel, while the grille and other items were milled from ABS plastics.

Originally commissioned to debut at the aborted Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in late June, the project commenced in February this year.

“The Fusion and Tata teams gave us a brief to design a one-off lifestyle Xenon that would appeal to design-savvy Australian Crew Cab buyers,” Mr Quincey said.

“We wanted to show how well the Xenon design works when carefully visually developed to suit the local market.”

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