The Indian Army has placed an order for over 4,100 units of the Maruti Gypsy, the biggest order for the car till date, giving a new lease of life to one of the earliest sports utility vehicles (SUV) that has evolved little since its launch in 1985.
The previous order from the Army was for around 1,000 vehicles in 2012. The current order was placed three months ago, and Maruti has already delivered half the number to the Army, while the remaining would be delivered in around four months.
The Army’s first order for the Gypsy was in 1991, and since then, Maruti Suzuki India has sold 31,000 of the vehicles to the force.
“Army has some specific requirements and they need additional accessories. We tweak those specifications even though it involves a lot of effort on our part in terms of engineering and production. We are glad they have shown trust in us with repeat orders,” said RS Kalsi, executive director and head of domestic sales and marketing at Maruti Suzuki India.
The Gypsy is customised for the Army with special accessories. A source said that the cars have convoy lights, which emits a green ray that the soldiers follow at the time of black-out in a war situation. Among other things, the cars are also provided with hooks in the rear for towing military equipment such as large guns and inside for mounting weapons.
There has also been demand from the Air Force, Navy, paramilitary forces and BSF but the numbers from them have been significantly lower as compared to that from the Army. “They order 50-100 vehicles in batches,” said Kalsi.
The 4-wheel drive, petrol Gypsy has been left out by the competition in the SUV market. Several factors have been responsible — such as the lack of a diesel variant.
Sales of the model over the last few years have been insignificant, but company officials say that the Gypsy is still popular with sports enthusiasts and rally drivers.
Having seen little change in terms of appearance, the Gypsy has lost out among current SUV buyers who are torn between compact stylish vehicles and big and powerful models with specs to match.
The car, however, seems to hold some appeal in the Bollywood. A company source said that actor Sohail Khan recently bought a Gypsy that was fully customised for him and drove it in the Himalayan Rally. Another Bollywood customer was John Abraham who also got his fully customised.