You can read the full length of the article online: https://esut.de/2021/08/fachbeitraege/industrie-fachbeitraege/28755/neue-basis-sonderschutzfahrzeuge/
Interview with Holger Stockey, Managing Director of SMS Special Mobility Services, a subsidiary of the WELP Group
ES&T: The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 was a loyal companion of the people active in the crisis areas for years. What do you expect from its successor and which (improved) performance features does the LC 300 bring with it?
Stockey: In view of the stricter emissions regulations worldwide, Toyota has also withdrawn from the very popular V8 engines. The completely new, significantly lower-emission range of engines (V6 engines in both gasoline and diesel versions) is not only convincing on paper when it comes to performance. The first driving impressions are also very promising and show no loss of performance compared to the V8 engines, quite the opposite. In addition, the new base vehicle impresses with new technical and interactive options in the interior.
The expectations of our customers will undoubtedly be, on the one hand, the increased protection factor and blast protection against various hand grenades and land mines.
ES&T: Are there any restrictions compared to the LC 200 and can the weight load for operational equipment be kept?
Stockey: New and lighter materials / structures of the base vehicle require new solutions, which our engineers are currently implementing thanks to the good cooperation with Toyota. Thanks to our in-house material development and our hot forming plant, we can also use new material components and bring them into line with the new structure.
As things stand now, we can offer our customers with our internally designated "F3-TLC" with up to 1,000 kg similar payloads to the previous model.
ES&T: What maximum protection can you achieve within the upper weight limit and what role does the chassis play in this?
Stockey: The maximum possible protection is one of the most important criteria for our customers. At least as important is an approved chassis with all the special components and modifications required for this.
The decisive factor for our customers is the combination of high-quality materials and tested, audited production of the protective solution. Every special protection vehicle that is built corresponds to the tested and certified prototype in terms of construction, material use and design. Manual reworking or alternative constructions or materials are not permitted.
The choice of materials and construction of the protective elements paired with a chassis developed for the respective protection class offer our responsible customers the certainty that they are fulfilling their duty of care towards the users of the specially protected SUV. The protection implemented depends on the requirements of the respective customer and can - specified according to different protection classes - extend up to the highest civil protection classes.
ES&T: Which protection classes are implemented and who checks it?
Stockey: With the F3-TLC, at least the protection classes and protection requirements that are known from the TLC200 (F2-TLC) are achieved, both in the ballistic and in the shock wave range (blast / IED). The test is carried out exclusively by accredited offices and service providers in accordance with the latest version of the relevant test standards.
The guidelines and regulations of the Association of Testing Centers for Attack Resistant Materials and Constructions (VPAM BRV 2009, VPAM ERV 2010) and NATO in the Standardization Agreements (e.g. STANAG 4569 AEP-55) are decisive.
S&T: How do you estimate the time required to manufacture the first prototype? How is the WELP Group positioned in terms of capacity here?
Stockey: Our modular, fully tested and certified armouring screw kit allows us to develop in the shortest possible time and offers a high degree of flexibility, especially with regard to add-on components.
The WELP Group has more than 70 permanent employees in development as well as an in-house firing channel for advance development. For the safety of our customers, we will invest several thousand hours of development in this project. Based on our many years of experience in the development, production and certification of special protection vehicles, we are confident that we will be able to offer the first F3-TLC in a tested and successfully certified version as early as the beginning of 2022.
Our absolute focus here is on the quality, reliability and reproducibility of our protection solutions. One-offs, small and small batches receive the same maximum attention in the WELP Group as our special protection solutions for OEM customers.
ES&T: When will the F3-TLC be available in sufficient quantities?
Stockey: Our unique armor concept allows us to go into series production almost immediately after the prototype has been certified. The first customer orders for a tested and certified version of our F3-TLC are already available.
As things stand, the locations of these first-order vehicles will not be in Europe. Based on the first, very positive customer feedback and our advance planning, which was also carried out on the purchasing side, we see ourselves well equipped to process planned customer deliveries as early as the beginning of 2022.
ES&T: Could the Bundeswehr be a possible customer?
Stockey: In principle, we cannot comment on current or potential customers. Of course, there is absolutely no question that the Bundeswehr is always a very interesting and demanding potential customer. And yes, we discuss their current and future needs with many NATO and non-NATO armed forces and police organizations.
ES&T: Production of the LC 200 is currently still in progress. Is there an overview of the delivery schedule? How long can you still deliver vehicles based on this?
Stockey: Over the past two years, we have held intensive discussions with our customers in order to sound out the need for specially protected SUVs based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200. On this basis, we have actively developed a stocking strategy that gives us the necessary flexibility to also supply new customers with sufficient quantities.
Nevertheless, the decision-making horizon for all customers is getting shorter to make purchases on the basis of the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, because all supplies are finite and demand is high. Alternatively, procurers must already look specifically in the direction of the F3-TLC or at alternatives at this point in time.
In this context, I would like to explicitly mention that the WELP Group has other tested and certified off-road vehicles in its portfolio, for example the very robust Land Cruiser 70 series, the Nissan Patrol or the GRAND SUV family GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade.
Gerhard Heiming asked the questions.