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  • Highly specialised vehicles like Pinzgauer rely on military and public utility companies buying sufficient numbers to make them commercially viable. They are also expensive to build and rely on a long reliable service life to give them an attractive whole-life cost. Despite public perceptions, the military do have to justify what they spend. There are also political considerations, which mean armies are under pressure to buy home produced equipment, so other manufacturers get in on the act and further dilute the market. The result is that manufacturing of these vehicles goes in fits and starts with batches being ordered then long quiet periods in between orders. Labour forces get laid off, you lose experienced people, suppliers suffer, quality suffers....Then they order 100 more (hooray!), but that isn't enough to be viable....and so it goes on.

    We were lucky because we had an unbroken line of orders to a number of mainly military customers here in UK and abroad which kept us busy for several years. However, eventually, they came up with an armoured requirement and that was the final nail. We built one, but relatively light vehicles just can't be adequately armoured to the desired level as the gross weight gets to be too much for the running gear and suspension, so things start breaking and reliability, longevity etc. etc goes out the window.

    There is also the problem of trying to meet Construction and Use legislation as emission levels are tightened, crash worthiness levels are raised and that sort of stuff which is very difficult to maintain on a vehicle design which has been in production for several decades. Eventually, you have to draw a line under it, go back to the drawing board and come up with something new that meets the criteria. That takes vast sums of money these days, and the production numbers are never going to be in it to make it worthwhile.

    The trick would be to corner an area of the market - like Unimog, for example, since you mentioned it - but even that has potential competitors nibbling away at its sector, albeit not very effectively.

    You were correct,really, in that the prime customers' requirements changed and they moved on to bigger and heavier vehicles.....the lightweight, routine administrative roles can be handled by off-the-shelf pick trucks and vans. Small manufacturers can't really compete, so certain types of vehicle become commercially non-viable. We all shrug.... and move on, sadly.
  • Hi Mike, thanks for posting, a very interesting insight on producing vehicles for the military, Regards Pete Elliott

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