The vehicle-customisation market in the country is totally unexplored

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: Oct 18 2009, 04:19am hrs
Think automobile design and the first Indian name that comes to mind is Dilip Chhabria and his company DC Design. Founded in 1993, the Indian car design firm DC Design built the first Aston Martin AMV8 Vantage prototype, which was featured at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. There was no looking back thereafter. In this interview to FEs Malabika Sarkar, Dilip Chhabria, founder, DC Design, talks about how design is emerging as a key differentiator in the automobile industry and what it takes to design a custom-based car.

Does automobile design get as much importance in India as it deserves Are there any legal issues in remodeling cars

I do not agree that design is taken lightly in India-made cars. Today most vehicles sold in India are present in other parts of the world as well. However, since design is a key attribute in the C, D and E segments and India is largely a market for A and B segment cars, design is perceived to be less prevalent. Customer expectations are rising all the time and manufactures who neglect the design aspect will do so at their own peril going forward. There are usually no issues in remodeling cars the world over as cars are registered prior to their remodeling and there are no structural changes.

What is potential for automobile customisation in India What is the size of the market for customised cars in the country

The potential is huge and measurable in line with peoples aspirations and in the absence of credible and competent enterprises to deliver their solutions. Theoretically, the market size could be 2-5% of the total vehicle market by value and this potential is totally unexplored.

Why is it that when it comes to this business of creating customised cars in India, there is only one name and that is you

It takes a lot to design and build cars and is a hugely daunting task. An enterprise has to have da Vinci character of the artist, engineering and market added to risk taking, courage, faith, passion and hard work. Usually these do not come together commonly.

Why limit your creativity to cars Why not design television sets, air conditioners and computers What motivates you about cars

We have attempted designing office interiors and furniture. However designing television sets etc is low on the value chain and given the growth potential in the automotive segment the need has not arisen.

Which, in your opinion, are the great automobile design companies in the world

Usually German and Italian cars such as Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Lamborghini are well designed.

Do you have a lot of freedom in the direction you push things What have you been most proud of so farPlease cite one particular project that came off really well

We usually demand freedom, and the discretion of design is solely ours and is fiercely guarded. One project that is close to my heart is the 2003 GAIA showcased at the Geneva show.

Could we talk a little about the NXG and NXR electric cars you aredesigning for Reva

The NXG was a DC Design project while NXR was handled as a mentor for them, which had already defined the NXR architecture. The NXG attempted to create a lifestyle run about the product, the USP being design.

You have recently tied-up with Carnation Auto. How would DC Design benefit from this venture

We would benefit from its nationwide sales and services, which would ensure growth for our company.

You are starting the DC College of Design near Pune this year. How did the whole idea emerge

Since we are the role models to the youth and since there is a large number of students aspiring to take up car design as a career, we felt the time was ripe for this initiative. There is also the huge growth potential of the auto industry, and the fact that design will play a key role as a differentiator. The design college is expected to be automotive centric as far as design, engineering and marketing are concerned.

Where would the funds come from

We have been trying to raise funds, but so far our attempts here have not been successful as education is controlled by the government.