One arm of Tata Group's industrial conglomerate keeps its fingers in the defense industry pie. Tata Aerospace and Defense and Tata Motors have been making martial vehicles since 1958, Tata Motors calling itself "the backbone of the Indian army" and saying it has provided more than one million vehicles to the Indian armed forces. For this one, the Tata Micro Bullet-Proof Vehicle (MBPV), the defense folks and Tata Motors teamed with the Indian military's research arm, the Defense Research and Development Organization (VRDE-DRDO). Full disclosure, the MBPV debuted in 2012 at DEFEXPO India, but found its way to car-lover Internet this week thanks to Motor1. And that 2012 date is important, because this was during the height of the Tata Nano, once the world's least expensive vehicle and wonderfully tiny at that. We don't know how much Tata planned to charge for the MBPV, but Tata Motors clearly carried over their expertise in tiny.
Here's another reason why 2012 was important to this: that was only four years removed from the 2008 terrorist attacks in India (locally referred to as "26/11" for November 26, 2008), where much of the fighting took place in buildings around the Indian capital of Mumbai like the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. Tata said India's special forces like the Marine Commandos and Para Battalions had been asking for an indoor combat vehicle suitable for tight spaces, so voila, the MBPV, designed to move through places like malls, airports, homes, and railway stations — places where kidnappers and terrorists might hole up to fight.
The MBPV weighs 2,425 pounds and can carry a maximum of 441 pounds, so two troops and their equipment. Powered by a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor, the mobile foxhole has four-wheel steering, hits a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour, and runs "up to six hours in intermittent operation." It can climb a 20-degree slope or set of stairs, but since most indoor stairs head up at more than 20 degrees, the MBPV might have an easier time reaching higher floors by rolling into an elevator. On defense, the soldiers inside are protected by bullet-resistant panels and windows, all of which, even underfloor, are angled to aid deflection.
Being a concept vehicle at the time, the plan was for India's elite forces to test the MBPV before inducting it into service. We can't find any record of the military signing a contract to acquire any and the Tata Motors site doesn't mention it again after 2012, so the MBPV's life might have ended up on that stage. Know, though, that Tata doesn't just do tiny. If you're interested in a water purification system built on an 8x8, or a 12x12 SAM launcher, the company has you covered.