The government of Letara solicited Request for Proposals from various automotive companies to aid them in their “passenger transport” problem. The RFP process proved to be a resounding success, with 16 proposals received by the deadline. In addition to the paper binders full of information, the procurement office also managed to covertly import one example of each vehicle for personal inspection. Here are the 16 vehicles under consideration:
Left to right, back row: Literman, Mocabey, Kolondra, Popas, Minerva, Swanson, P&A, VCV, Wolfe, Kessel, Liberty;
Left to right, front row: Stellar, Matsushita, Vizzuri, Mara, Cataphract.
There seems to be a healthy mix of large converted wagons, vans, and mini-busses. At first glance, none of the vehicles would raise any suspicions from passers-by, and there are even some outstanding disguises.
As usual, the RFP packages were received by the procurement department and vetted before sending it up the chain for evaluation. The procurement process is solely focused on weeding out the vehicles that don’t meet the RFP requirements. Looking through the list, most vehicles passed the initial inspection, except for two. Unfortunately, these two manufacturers had to be informed that they did not meet the government’s requirements in at least one area:
First, the Kolondra was flagged. While it is a large enough vehicle, unfortunately it only features five seats. As such, it is unsuitable for government transport. Aside from this oversight, the vehicle was very expensive - the second most expensive in the entire field for combined purchase and upkeep costs in fact. Its only saving grace is that it can reach blistering speeds, but alas, it will not be considered further.
Second, the Popas was also flagged for immediate dismissal. Although this vehicle does seat eight, it does so on bench seats in the back - and the RFP clearly requested full-size seating. This is not the only issue with the vehicle. It also sports some futuristic tires that cannot be sourced in Letara, rendering this vehicle unusable. Interestingly, while the Kolondra is the fastest vehicle, the Popas is the slowest of the entire bunch.
With the two rule breakers eliminated, the procurement office sent up the remaining 14 portfolios and sets of keys to the evaluation office. Their task is to narrow the field down to their chosen top three, which will be shared with the senior security office for their final verdict. Here are the notes prepared by the evaluation agents:
Literman: At first glance, the paint job looks perhaps a little too military. It’s overall purchase and running costs are reasonable. We really like its reinforced steel panels, that extra weight adds a lot of confidence in the car. This car is decently easy to drive and is extremely practical, and has decent off-road capabilities for the more rural areas. Speed is a bit of an issue - it barely makes 100 km/h and is slow to get going, but at least it can go around corners at a decent clip. Perhaps better for inner city transport. This car really falters in two areas however: comfort is abysmal, worse than any race car even! And reliability. It is a wonder that it even made it this far! We were so intrigued how a car can have such low reliability, so we took it apart to see for ourselves. Well, no wonder! Looks like the mechanics forgot to include the harmonic damper in the engine. That thing just rips the crank apart! Needless to say, the Literman will not be further considered.
Mocabey: The Mocabey looks like a generic passanger mini-bus, nothing special about it - just what we like to see. It is a little cheaper than the Literman and about in the middle of the pack overall cost wise. It’s a little hard to drive, but safety is decent and off-road capabilities are excellent even. It has decent reliability and about average speed and safety. This vehicle, too, though has miserable comfort and would cause all kinds of problems for our driver and security guard on long trips. It’s nice to see steel panels on the vehicle, but otherwise it’s nothing special. In terms of speed, it is very acceptable indeed. Not a bad vehicle, but just not good enough to be further considered.
Minerva: Well, this is an interesting one. There are already a few Minervas running around the country in consumer vehicle form, so at first glance it seems this one would just blend in. On the other hand, the Minervas have such a unique appearance that they still turn heads wherever they go, which is of course not exactly what we want. Next, the vehicle is expensive - quite expensive in fact. Expensive to buy and expensive to maintain. This is more of a luxury limousine than a… “passenger” transport. It is quite comfortable too despite its relatively small size - at least compared to the larger busses. It’s quite practical but hard to drive. It has good off-road capability, but safety, practicality, and reliability are only average. We did like the added safety points to this car, and the steel panels are always welcome even if they are just stock. And true to Minerva form and what we’ve already seen in the Cannonball Run, this car is fast. In a straight line, but still fast. Overall, though, the cost of this car unfortunately is prohibitive, thus we must pass on it.
Swanson: Another military looking vehicle, but this one has a clever disguise! Definitely deserves some bonus points for that, because it’s true - everyone would stay clear of a pest control van. This is a good start. Considering the stats of the vehicle, it sits in the middle of the range when it comes to overall costs. The rest of the numbers are also quite… average. Decently easy to drive, decent comfort, decent safety, decent practicality, decent utility, decent offroad, decent realiability, decent steel panels. It is just a very decent car. If you want to see the average car: this is it, all in one. Its main headlights are the decently (there is that word again) clever camouflage and the better-than-average quality materials used in its manufacturing. As such, it gets close, but it just doesn’t offer that “extra” that some others do, so the Swanson won’t be considered further.
P&A: The next on the list is the P&A. Right off the bat, it is among the more expensive vehicles on the list. Surprisingly for a mini-bus, its panels are aluminium - of standard thickness no less, which is a large safety concern. Moving past that, we see a car that is hard to drive, isn’t overly practical, has poor utility, but average off-road capability and mediocre reliability. The two shining stats for this car are its comfort, trouncing any other car by a long shot, and a really good safety score thanks to a more advanced safety package. The bus can muster a very acceptable speed, but has the worst cornering characteristic of all submissions, so it would have a hard time to out-manoeuvre anything else on four wheels. Overall we must conclude that the P&A will not be further considered in this process.
VCV: The VCV is another large wagon with hints of luxury, similar to the Minerva. But that is where the similarities end. The VCV is quite a lot cheaper - it is in fact a very reasonable price in the short and long term. And from here, the VCV resembles the Swanson a lot more in that it is… decent… in just about every aspect. It is perhaps a little less practical, but then it is a little bit more off-road worthy. It may be a little less comfortable, but is a little more reliable. And every other statistic just about slots nicely in the middle of the range. And as such, the VCV itself slots nicely into the middle of the pack. It’s not a bad car, but also lacks that little bit of shine and polish to really stand out. As such, the VCV will not be considered further.