He may not be the CEO of a global auto giant, but few people were more recognized at the Auto Expo '08 than automobile designer Dilip Chhabria. A designer by education, passion and profession, he speaks to Sourya Biswas about his latest designs and how it all started. (View exclusive domain-b video interview with Dilip Chhabria)
Tell us something about your uber-luxury car the Ambierod. What prompted you to choose the Ambassador as its base?
Half our revenues come from B2B, and half from B2C…and within the B2B segment, our aim is to do more foreign business at the cost of domestic B2B. So we are trying to create a concept, which would impress the visiting global CEOs and design teams at the Auto Expo…and because we have a B2C segment as well, we thought we had to kill two birds with one stone…to create this concept we also had to connect with the local population. Therefore, we felt the Ambassador was an ideal platform…also, it is a challenge to really evolve an Ambassador…so the worth of a design company would be demonstrated, in that sense. That's why we selected the Ambassador.
What about India's answer to the supercar – the DC:S? What does ''S'' stand for?
The ''S'' stands for ''Sports''; it's as simple as that…we will probably get into a convoluted name at the time of release. The concept of this car was to create a relatively affordable supercar, in that sense…much like the driving attributes you would get in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. So it's a space-frame that we have engineered ourselves, of course with some help from British consultants, and we hope to produce about 300 numbers annually.
You talked ''affordable''. What kind of figures are we talking of here? How much will these two beauties cost?
Well, the Ambierod would be in the region of about four crores, and I called the ''S'' affordable, relatively affordable, which would be about 25 lakhs or so.
What is the exact range of your services, and where in India are they available?
The range of services include styling, prototyping, engineering, customizing…within that realm, B2B and B2C…so our customers are, on the one hand, a Tata Motors or a GM or a Ford or a Renault, and on the other hand, we have celebrity customers like a Sanjay Dutt, or Amitabh Bachhan, or a Laloo Prasad Yadav, and of course, industrialists. And the range of products starts from three-wheelers, four-wheelers, six-wheelers, eight-wheelers, right up to even some choppers that we have done.
Are you currently working with any major manufacturers on collaborations?
Yes, we are concurrently working on quite a few domestic and foreign manufacturers, but confidentiality precludes me from telling anything.
Going back in history, how did you initially start this venture? What prompted you, and who were your earliest clients?
Well, DC Design was set up in 1993, with the purpose of offering design and prototype solutions to manufacturers and customers. We realized that there would be a vibrant market because we were ascribing to that human need of change. If you could generate good products and it catered to people's tastes…we felt there would be a good growth phase, which is exactly what has happened.
Final question. In your opinion, is there a car that is just perfect and requires no modification?
No, it doesn't happen that way, because usually cars, from the drawing-board to the street-sale, takes about five to six years…and in those five to six years, the design has already got dated on the drawing board. So we see a huge opportunity as it's already dated.