You don’t need to hop on a plane for your next adventure. Motohom, a Mumbai-based start-up has tied up with MTDC to make your road-trip happen. We talk to Sachin Panchal about his company and what this means for tourism in these times of a pandemic.
When he was studying transportation design in France, Sachin Panchal fell in love with the campervan culture, one that is most prominent in the US but also in Europe. He was fascinated with the idea that you didn’t need to check into a hotel every night and all you had to do was pull over on the side of the road and sleep. “And if you liked the place, you could even spend a few days there and not worry about piling hotel room bills.”
Conveniently, transportation design was always something Panchal wanted to do. So when he returned, he set up a business to design vanity vans for movie stars. But he knew that there was more he could do with his education. And now that he had his won workshop, he could push the limits of what he had learnt.
“I knew I had to do something in the campervan space as early as 2011 when I was visiting Jawahar (in Maharashtra) for some work. Jawahar is the birthplace of Warli art, which is world famous, but it didn’t have any infrastructure to speak of.
“If a foreigner or someone who’s used to the creature comforts of the city life had to come here, they wouldn’t have any decent place to spend the night. I had seen the campervan culture in France and recognised that this could be a potential area for a new business in India.
“So, around 2012, I started researching on campervan designs, looking at dyes, creating prototype, etc. By 2018, the first model was ready,” Panchal tells Yahoo over the phone from Vasai, on the outskirts of Mumbai where his workshop is located.
Two years later, Panchal’s company Motohom has now tied up with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and launched two campervans to promote tourism in the state.
The idea is to lease out the vans to people wanting to explore Maharashtra even despite the COVID-19 crisis. With the incentive to fly becoming a lot less in the light of the pandemic, the idea of road trips is fast gaining ground. A campervan service at a time like this is not a bad idea at all, according to Panchal. It’s a win-win for everyone, he says. “Tourists can travel and live in the safe environs of the van and the state need not make heavy investments to build resorts in faraway places.”
At the moment, Motohom has two vehicles: a Mahindra Marazzo and an Ashok Leyland bus. Both these vehicles have been converted into campervans. The smaller vehicle is perfect for a couple whereas the bus is ideal for a small family. Both the vehicles are equipped with amenities to cook a meal and a waste disposal system. The smaller vehicle has a detachable living space that goes on the roof to make an extra room whereas the bus has within it, a living room, bathroom, bedroom and a kitchen. They also have an SOS button and have a speed limit of 90 kph.
You can book yours from the Motohom website. The smaller van will cost you Rs 4,000 per day whereas the larger one (that comes with a driver and an attendant) can be rented for prices starting at Rs 21,000 per day. You can also lease out your car and with an investment of Rs two lakh, get it converted into a campervan which Mohotom will put out as part of its fleet.
“There is a lot of potential to this model,” Panchal says. “With the campervan you can now explore parts of Maharashtra and be part of experiences that you couldn’t earlier. Imagine parking your van inside one of Shivaji’s forts, or being part of the Pandharpur wari! The possibilities are endless!”
For now, though, you can be satisfied knowing that you don’t need to be cooped up inside your home office. Since you’re now working from home, your home could be anywhere in Maharashtra – from the beaches of Tarkarli to the hills of Bhandardara.