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Test Drives
09 Jul 10 15:19
Tata Young? No! TATA XENON – And it's a GAS!
John K. Lindgren
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A pick-up is a light commercial vehicle a "lorry" as the Brits say and lorries don't look cool. But they look sturdy and utilitarian. Well, they should because they are supposed to carry cargo up to 1,000 kilogram that's why the moniker 1-ton pick up trucks.

The Kingdom of Thailand world's biggest manufacturer of pick-ups after USA is the new home the 1 ton pick-up truck. But at least half of the pick-up trucks in Thailand are used as passenger car especially in the rural areas. The majority trucks manufactured in Thailand are Japanese, plus the American FORD and GM - that's it. The Europeans gave up many years ago. Peugeot was the last European made pick-up truck in Thailand. No more. C'est fini maintenent! Korean pick-ups are available in Latin America – not in Thailand. But do you find many Korean sedans, SUV's and MPV's people carriers.

Enter TATA, the new kid on the block. TATA is India's largest automobile company, the USD 8.8 billion Tata Motors is the world’s fourth largest truck manufacturer, and the world’s second largest bus manufacturer. Tata Motors passenger cars & commercial vehicles are currently marketed in Europe, Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa.

In Thailand, Tata Motors teamed up with Thonburi Automotive Assembly, investing over USD 1.3 billion to manufacture & distribute Tata products. In 2008 Tata Motors entered the competitive Thai pick-up market and introduced the Tata Xenon pickup with two fuel options; the Xenon 2.2L DICOR Diesel and the Xenon Super CNG. The Xenon Diesel version is fitted with the 2.2L common-rail engine which boasts excellent power and fuel efficiency. It currently comes in two body styles: X-tend Cab and Double Cab.

The Xenon Super CNG is the first pick-up truck in Thailand that comes with a factory-installed 100-per cent CNG system. It offers one of the better energy-saving options available in Thailand and therefore one of the more cost-effective alternatives for the Thai customer. Currently it is available as an X-tend Cab.

The CarSanook! TATA test drive unit was the XENON Super CNG/GNG. The first factory installed Compressed Natural Gas pick up truck in the Kingdom.

“Hey, this is a good looking truck” I told my co-driver. TATA Xenon boasts a muscular, sturdy design with bulging wheel arches. A cool, utilitarian looking pick-up truck with high ground clearance since or since this is the Hi-Terrain model.

Two paint jobs are available; Arctic Silver and the popular Arctic white. Have you ever see a obsidian black pick-up truck lately?

Inside the TATA Xenon X-Tend cab it's all beige with dark brown dashboard.
Functional and with well designed and placed switches and knobs. Behind the front seats there is additional space for two smaller passenger or cargo.

On the road, at the steering wheel TATA Xenon immediately gives you the “I am in command here” feeling. With the high driving position and the big rear mirrors comes a encompassing view.

Time to hit the road. Shifting up: 1st, 2nd up to 5th gear and suddenly we're cruising steadily 135 kph on the northern bound highway. The 2.1 liter 115 horsepower TATA engine has throaty engine note. It feels good to step on it. Feeling like a trucker. I even decided to wear a baseball cap.

As we approach Nakhonsawan a large PPT CNG/NGV appears. Time to top up the gas cylinders. To sedans and three vans in the waiting in line. 22 minutes later on the road again with snacks and hot coffee from 7-11. The coffee goes in the cup holders in the glove department. Close the doors and hit the road again.

How much? THB 380. Full (gas)tanks. Less than 400 Thai Baht! Fill up a petrol or diesel powered car/pick up truck these day and you'll pay THB 1,000 – 1,5000 of your hard earned money. Every time.

Now, a NGV (Natural Gas Vehicle) or CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) will save you lots of money. Fuel price per kilometer in THB with a CNG engine equals to less than one THB per kilometer compared to 1.63 THB/kilometer standard diesel. After 45,000 kilometers on the clock a diesel pickup would have cost you THB 73,350 The CNG version: THB 31,500. Money saved = THB 41,850 "That's money in bank – not in the diesel tank!"

Sometimes you hear that there are not enough CNG /NGV pumps.

True or False?


The number of PTT service stations stands at 408 stations with 365 stations in
Bangkok. Today you'll find a PTT/NGV stations in every Thai province. The stations are clean, modern well equipped PTT “gas” stations many with adjacent ATM machines and 7-11 store. Open 24 hours.

On the way back to Bangkok at the Kamphengphet PPT pump we meet a Thai up-country police man, his wife and their baby boy all dressed dressed matching in white polo shirts. The father, the proud driver posing in front of the new family crystal white TATA Super CNG X-Tend Cab with the ignition key in his hand.

Carsanook verdict: The first Thai factory installed CNG pick-up truck and the most economical, and clean truck is also a handsome looking vehicle.

Never tried a GAS truck?

www.carsanook.com recommends a TATA Xenon Super CNG X-Tend Cab test drive.

Price: THB 539,000

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