Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, until recently, was using the luxurious and bulletproof Mercedes Benz ML500 Guard SUV. However, he’s just lost access to this car as the Uttar Pradesh government is unable to fix the car. Government officials of the Uttar Pradesh government have said that the repairs to the Mercedes ML500 Guard bulletproof SUV would cost a mammoth Rs. 26 lakhs, making it too expensive to fix.
An Uttar Pradesh government official attached to the eastates department had this to say to IE,
Our budget does not allow us to undertake the expensive repairs so we will give another suitable car, probably a Prado, to Mulayam Singh.
Crying foul, a Samajwadi party leader accused the government of political vendetta,
The government can spend crores of rupees in publicity and advertising but cannot afford a mere Rs 26 lakhs for a car repair. This proves that the BJP is pursuing the politics of vendetta.
Instead, Mr. Yadav is likely to get a Toyota Prado SUV as a replacement. Now, the Mercedes Benz ML500 Guard and the Toyota Prado are poles apart in terms of pricing. The ML-Class SUV is much pricier, and in ML500 Guard trim costs a hefty Rs. 3 crore+. In fact, the SUV was launched in India by Mercedes Benz in 2014 at the Auto Expo, with an ex-showroom price of Rs. 2.49 crores.
The Mercedes Benz ML500 Guard comes with VR4 armoring that will protect its occupants from a range of weapons: bullets from handguns to even grenades. The ML500 Guard can handle bullets from Magnum 0.357 and 0.44 guns as well as a DM51 hand grenade. It comes with an on-board fresh air system that will give the occupants of the vehicle 5-8 minutes of fresh air in case of a gas attack.
The SUV is more than 400 kilograms heavier than a regular ML-Class thanks to the additional armoring. It’s powered by a 4.7 liter V8 petrol engine that makes 402 Bhp of peak power and 600 Nm of peak torque. A 7 speed torque converter automatic gearbox is standard on this SUV, which can hit the 100 Kph mark from standstill in just 6.5 seconds despite all the additional weight it lugs around thanks to the armoring. The SUV is also equipped with runflat tyres that will keep the SUV operational even in case of a puncture by bullets/any other reason for up to 80 Kms.
Obviously, running such a massive petrol SUV can be heavy on the pocket, and the sheer cost of maintaining one can be daunting. Since it’s a completely built unit (CBU), importing parts to maintain the ML500 Guard can be very expensive, and the Uttar Pradesh government finding the Rs. 26 lakh repair bill for this SUV too high is natural. The alternative is to opt for a non-bullet proof SUV made by the likes of Toyota, and the LandCruiser Prado seems like a decent choice. However, making the Toyota LandCruiser Prado bullet-proof will come with its own expense, and it remains to be seen if the UP government actually opts for another bullet proof car for its former chief minister.