For the automobile enthusiast, the vehicle is an entity that invariably becomes a part of who you are. And taking this line of thought forward are auto modifiers across the country that draw inspiration from your characteristics and how you intend on using the vehicle. Ultimately, these manufacturers are able to cater to your every whim and fancy. These bespoke pieces of work are extremely well put together where the quality of workmanship is what you pay for.
While the quantum of work is growing, customisation will always remain a niche business in the automotive space as the costs associated are quite high. The most popular customisation trends for 4x4s include suspension upgrades, larger profile tyres, additional lighting and the addition of a winch. For those who wish to take it further, there are options for custom paint scheme, leather interiors and an engine tuning box for an increase in power output. Raj Kapoor, chief innovator, Performance Vehicles elaborates, “Any bespoke project requires painstaking detailing which in turn is extensively labour intensive. Today, India does not have the boasting rights for cheap labour hence costs can become daunting. People need to come to terms with that fact.”
Since vehicle customisation involves the right skillset, most custom carmakers tend to have a focus area of expertise. Operating in the 4x4 segment is Azad4x4, an offshoot of the Azad Group that has over six decades of experience in the engineering space. They have gained a following for their work on vehicles such as the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross and Mahindra Thar. Commenting on this aspect, Inupreet Chadha, managing partner, Azad4x4, says, “While Mahindra’s Thar prevails in terms of demand, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is smartly creating a new segment for pick-up truck lovers. It’s exciting to see the growth of customisation work of these two segments in India.” For 4x4s a good custom upgrade will usually cost anywhere between Rs.3 lakh-7 lakh.
The two-wheeler segment has witnessed a lot of customisation too. After all, India is arguably the world’s largest two wheeler market and with exciting products such as Bajaj Dominar, KTM Duke or Royal Enfield Classic 500, there are enough enthusiasts who wish for their trusty ride to stand apart from the rest. While a custom motorcycle isn’t cheap, it is definitely more cost effective than a four-wheeler and that is also driving demand. It can range from Rs.75,000 to Rs.2 lakh, however, kits are available at a cheaper price point costing Rs.20,000-35,000. Having said that, Pune-based Autologue Design is looking at making motorcycle customisation more price-accessible with their kits. Mukul Nanda, CEO & founder, Autologue Design, explains, “Since Autologue’s inception in 2013, the market has matured in some ways but there is still a lot to be desired. There are two types of custom requirements, one for the everyday person looking to stand out and the other for the real custom-bike enthusiast. We were always looking at catering to the first category rather than the other to make it a sustainable business. That’s what we are trying to do with the bolt-on accessories and kits we make.”
In this day of self-expression and indulgence, owning a custom vehicle remains the ultimate form of expression and Raj Kapoor sums it up rather well, “Today people are experimenting with body wraps, bolt-on performance spares, custom designed lights, body kits and what not. No matter what the future trends will be, the desire to express with some unique mark on one’s car will always be in vogue!”
The writer is an editor with MotorScribes and tweets at @VikramGour