In conversation with Jaskirat Singh Nagra and Dwaine Jungen
As told to Ajinkya Nair
India can be seen as an extremely potent, hardcore off-road market. But there aren’t many manufacturers who are willing to take the dive into this vastly uncharted territory, even with the likes of the Thars clocking impressive numbers. We still don’t have a single purpose-built off-road vehicle with the mettle to take us into expanses unknown. But Jaskirat Singh Nagra of Sarbloh Motors had a treat for us all. And we were obviously intrigued. So we sat down with Dwaine Jungen (DJ) of Preferred Chassis Fabrication and Jaskirat (JS) to see what they’ve been plotting for us.
AN: So tell us a little about IronScorpion
DJ: IronScorpion HMV was formed as an initial concept by Jaskirat. He was interested in bringing the Scorpion over to India for over five years. HMV stands for High Mobility Vehicle and the Scorpion was designed primarily for functionality and strength. Iron Scorpion will be constructing vehicles in India. But a lot of the components will be American fabricated for the Indian market. We will be bringing them to India via a route where the import tariffs will be minimised, and we plan to get them as Completely Knocked Down (CKD) units.
JS: I wanted to do something revolutionary and my research led me to people who were thinking out of the box and doing more than just putting four wheels together and going over rocks. We needed reliability, engineering and design. I then came across a Scorpion MK I and saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between us and the rest of the world. I plan to level the playing field. I wrote to Dwaine straight out of the heart. Since we didn’t know each other we had to get the legal teams involved initially and we reached a point of comfort in 2016 after which we decided that we would follow the path of mutual appreciation and see what happens.
“It has 52 inches axle articulation with a chassis roll of 12 degrees”
On Jan 27, 2017 we formally conceived IronScorpion HMV when it was registered as a trademark with our office in Tucson. Our first effort was to showcase the vehicle in the country.
It is one of the few vehicles that can go straight from the pavement to extreme off-road terrains without any extra modifications at all. So, truly a purpose-built vehicle.
AN: How did the Scorpion come to life?
DJ: Through my employment I met Sunny Hohniger, a Swedish engineer and we realised that we are kindred spirits. He came up with the idea of the original Mk I in 1997. I ended up doing a lot of the fabrication for subsequent Scorpion platforms. In the early 2000s I bought all the rights to the project to turn it into a real product. The original suspension concept was by Sunny Hohniger. It has been refined substantially in the last 20 years. Basically, the engineering allows 52 inches axle articulation with a chassis roll of 12 degrees and it keeps even ground pressure.
One of the big things about the Scorpion is that if you don’t drive it like a Scorpion then you don’t get any more capability than a conventional off-roader. For the Scorpion to do its best, it needs to go at every obstacle at a 45-degree angle or at a bias.
AN: Why do you see India as a potential market?
JS: Currently, the Indian off-road scene is juvenile and the growth is tremendous. So there is an opportunity, according to me. From racing old army jeeps to the RFC, it has been a long journey.
Another thing I noticed is that the interest levels of the Indian market have gone up significantly and I feel that this is the distinct marketplace that exists for the Scorpion – enthusiast as well as institutional markets like the armed forces, government, coffee plantations, forest departments and more. India is set to become the first market to get the Scorpion as a commercially sold product, outside of the US.
“For the Scorpion to do its best, it needs to go at every obstacle at a 45-degree angle”
AN: Any other vehicle that can be as good on-road as off-road without mods?
JS: My simple two letter answer would be NO.
AN: What modifications would the vehicle go through for India?
DJ: The biggest change platform-wise was making it RHD (right-hand drive), but with new technology from Cummins Engines, it was perfect for the Iron Scorpion. With all the new emission laws, they required engine fuel management to be more precise than when the Mk I came out. So through the use of specific fuels and calibration codes the engines are a lot more altitude friendly. The fuel mixture and timing changes make the engine more reliable at altitudes.
JS: There’s a huge demand for the petrol engine among enthusiasts. Institutional markets will need the diesel, however. The Scorpion since inception has been a Cummins powerplant. And we have been working for an India-specific engine since the 3.9-litre is pretty old school. We’re dealing with a mechanical injection engine for varying altitudes at this point on the newest Cummins 2.8-litre platform with tier IV emissions. Only issue is whether it will come to India.
AN: Since you see India as a potential market, would it be road legal? Has it gone through the ARAI homologation?
JS: We still have to go through the homologation process. Our intent is clear. We would like to have a homologated Scorpion for India because without it, it’s not road legal. We are cognizant that there are some very specific things that you need and we are figuring out how to get those fitted in.
AN: Application for military uses?
JS: We have been trying to get information about the specifications for the armed forces. We are trying to understand how the Scorpion can be made to address these specs. A good thing, however, is that it closely resembles what the Indian Armed Forces require.