With Force One, Force Motors has entered the sports utility vehicle market segmentThe month of August 2011 saw Force Motors enter the Sports Utility Ve-hicle market with Force One. Developed over a period of eighteen months, at first sight, the Force One looks like it was inspired by the Ford Endeavour. Measuring 4860 mm in length, 1780 mm in width, and 1885 mm in height, this SUV is not exactly compact. It generates good road presence. The Force One may look a little boxy, but reflects good quality and rugged build. It is a significant departure from the reputation vehicles made by Force Motors have enjoyed until now - of being utilitarian and basic, but low on maintenance. APF did find some rough edges when it comes to fit and finish on the Force One SUVs displayed at the launch at Mumbai. These are however minor, and can be easily worked upon. Available in a single trim, the SUV can seat up to seven people in good comfort. It is also well equipped and packs features like projector lamps, remote key entry, reverse parking sensor, brake pad wear indicator, over speed warning, progressive cruise control, 3-row air-con with independent AC control in 1st and 2nd row, power windows, multi-info display, embedded radio antenna, mobile charger, and more.A body-bolted-to-the-chassis construction, the wheelbase of Force One measures 3025 mm. Ground clearance is 205 mm. Currently available in 4x2 configuration, Force One, according to Mr Prasan Firodia, Managing Director, Force Motors, is an outcome of a tough brief given to the designers and engineers. Drawing on Force Motors' experience of producing utility vehicles and light commercial vehicles for more than half a century, Force One, according to sources at Force Motors, offers outstanding power. Its ruggedness is ideal for Indian roads, they add. Asserts Dr Abhay Firodia, Chairman, Force Motors: "We have leveraged our in-house capability in tooling, and engineering; and apart from this, learning from our half a century of engineering experience. We collaborated with Mercedes Benz and Lotus Engineering to build this SUV." The powertrain and drivetrain of Force One has been licensed from Mercedes Benz. The unit is of the modern, common-rail turbo-diesel construction, and displaces 2.2-litres. Having double overhead camshafts, and 4-valves per cylinder, the engine produces 141 PS @ 3800 rpm, and 321 Nm of peak torque between 1600-2400 rpm. With the drive (in 4x2 version) going to the rear, the powertrain is longitudinally arranged. The drive is routed through a G32, 5-speed manual gearbox, and a dual mass flywheel. The dual mass flywheel, according to Firodia, is first-in-class. Suspension, anchored to the stiff ladder chassis, consists of double wishbones and coil springs at front. Rear suspension is a multi-link set up with pan-hard rod and coil springs. The front and rear shock absorbers are of the gas charged telescopic type. To get the dynamics (ride and handling) right, Force Motors consulted Lotus Engineering of UK. Wipro is helping the company to set up an effective customer and dealer management structure. To market the Force One, Force Motors has installed a new vertical - an all-new endeavour for a company that has until now been active in utility and commercial vehicle markets with its Trax range of utility vehicles, Traveller and Trump LCVs, and the Traveller range of people carriers. The creation of a new, personal vehicle division, according to Prasan Firodia, would help to address the aspirations of present day buyer. Planning to extend an experience that is on par, or better than the one offered by competitors, the company is also working on a people carrier at the top-end, to cater to large families, hospitality industry, and more. If sources close the company are to be believed, the company is working on an earlier generation version of Mercedes Benz Viano. This would be made under license from Mercedes Benz, they add. The relation between Force Motors, and Mercedes Benz is not new. Not only is the Force Traveller based on a Mercedes Benz van from the 1980s, the company, through a separate entity within its structure, assembles engines for the Indian operation of Mercedes Benz. It also has a joint venture with MAN AG of Germany to build medium and heavy commercial vehicles under a joint venture name of MAN Force, including high-end tippers and tractor-trailers. The Force One will be sold and serviced by 22 new dealerships in the first phase. The target, according to Prasan, is to have 50 dealers by the year end. Riding on Rs 100,00 crore investment, of which Rs 50 crore were invested in marketing, and brand building, the development of Force One saw the company invest Rs 1.5 crore. As mentioned above, utilising in-house resources and experience, the chassis of Force One was designed in-house, and uses high-strength material. The body is made of high-tensile, high yield alloy steel. It is made at the new robotic welding shop installed at Pithampur where Force Motors manufactures the Trax and Traveller range. It also builds tractors at the same location. Apart from the robotic welding line, a CED facility was also installed, according to Prasan. The Force One, he adds, is the only SUV in its class with a body that has been CED treated. The electronics of Force One was validated by Mercedes Benz Tech, Germany. Priced at Rs 10.65 lakh, the Force One is claimed to consume a litre of diesel every 12 to 13 km. Efficiency, thus, is on par with the competitors. Available in 4x2 version currently, the 4x4 version would be available in March next year. This one is expected to come with an electro-mechanical transfer case that facilitates shift-on-the-fly. If this vehicle would be equipped with differential locks, like the ones found on the Trax Gurkha needs to be seen. They would further enhance the off-roading capability of this vehicle. While the sources at Force Motors are not revealing if a sportier, short wheelbase version of this SUV would be launched at a latter date, there are indications that the Force One's platform would be used for development of new models in the future. The ABS equipped Force One will be available in December 2012.