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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mercedes Benz S600L Pullman armoured car for Indian President

Comparisons in most fields are inevitable.. the administrators, bureaucrats and the legislators must be provided with best of everything …… only Q would be whether such comparisons would be valid in deliverables, responsibilities, swift actions and deeds also !!

There are news that our Indian President Pratibha Patil has been provided a Mercedes Benz S600L Pullman, an armoured car whose special protection features provide cover from military-standard small-arms projectiles and fragments from hand grenades and other explosives. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh uses a two B5-level armoured BMW 7 Series car.  Newspapers articulate that the President's limousine has been upgraded after nearly eight years.  Though Officials at Rashtrapati Bhawan and Mercedes Benz declined to comment on the issue, the cost of the car is estimated to be around Rs 6 crore.   Reports have it that the new vehicle for the President was purchased around the middle of this year and it took one year to build the special-protection vehicle - whose safety features include the ability to run on flat tyres, a self-sealing fuel tank and a fire-extinguishing system.  Rashtrapati Bhawan has purchased the vehicle to be used only by the President, the sources said.

Like the luxurious and spacious open-plan Pullman railway coaches after which it is named, the S 600 Pullman Guard has huge space for a comfortable journey. The vehicle owes its spacious interior to its 4315mm wheelbase, which is 115 cm longer than that of the long version of the special-protection S-Class. With an overall length of 6356 mm, the vehicle has a space for discreet meetings and is equipped with state of the art communications and entertainment systems.   It is powered by a twelve-cylinder bi-turbo engine with a displacement of 5513cc and an output of 517 horse power. This gives it enough power to effortlessly steer through danger zones and troubled areas in case of emergency situations.

Mercedes Benz had showcased the S600L Pullman at the Delhi Auto Expo in 2010. The state limousine is equipped with a higher rear roof for easier access and greater headroom.   Among other features, the car offers a special air intake system which can circulate fresh air even if there are poisonous gases around.  In tune with the requirement of interaction on the move with State Guests and high level dignitaries, the seats are so designed enabling passengers sit facing each other.  For privacy, there would be a partition between the driver's seat and the passenger compartment.

Most famous World leaders have specialized vehicles designed exclusively for them.  The Cadillac nicknamed ‘the Beast’  was paraded earlier this year for Barack Obama.  This was a  “super car” built by General Motors in Detroit and based on a Cadillac chassis. General Motors which makes Cadillac, has been quoted as saying  “One of the specifications is that we don’t talk about the specifications”.   However, it’s said that the “car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world.”

In the United States,  the  presidential state car is the official state car used by the President.  A variety of vehicles have both officially and unofficially been acknowledged as the presidential vehicle.  Over the last century, US Govt. has specially commissioned vehicles for presidential use, often specifying advanced communications equipment, special convenience features, armor plating, and defense countermeasures. American cars are traditionally chosen for the role.  The beast explained above is a recent one to be customized as the Presidential car.  Besides there are two backup limousines previously used by President George W. Bush.

When the President is on a trip, the limousine is transported in a C-17 Globemaster III.  It is stated that the current Cadillac limo is the first not to carry a specific model name.   The vehicle's outward appearance carries many current Cadillac styling themes, but doesn't exactly resemble any particular production vehicle.   It is believed that the car is fitted with military grade armor at least five inches thick, and the wheels are fitted with run flat tires that makes the vehicle drivable for a certain period of time if punctured. The doors weigh as much as a Boeing 757 airplane cabin door. The vehicle's fuel tank is reported to be  leak-proof and explosion resistant.  The limo is equipped with a driver's enhanced video system which allows the driver to operate in an infrared smoke environment. Kept in the trunk is ablood bank of the President's blood type.   Interestingly, there are no key hole in the doors. A special trick, known only to Secret Service agents, is required to gain access to the passenger area !!

The United States government also operates similarly designed limousines for VIP guests, visiting heads of government, and heads of state.
In Britain, the car for the Royal Queen  is a specialized one with upholstery specially made 0f  the lambswool sateen cloth made by Hield Brothers.  Only two of these vehicles were built, making it even rarer than the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, of which just 18 were built for royalty and heads of state. That is a Bentley  used only on official engagements, and is always escorted by a selection of marked and unmarked Royal Protection Squad vehicles and local police vehicles and motorcycle outriders.   When the Queen is on board, the Bentley "Flying B" hood ornament is replaced by Her Majesty's personal mascot of St Georgeslaying the dragon.

So a royal car is a compulsory requirement for the Head of the Government – but … are their other functions and actions similarly accountable ??

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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