The Ultimate Vehicle Makeover
For decades, one company has been transforming luxury SUVs into customized technological experiences.
Becker Automotive Design’s comprehensive transport vehicles look almost like any other sleek SUV or van. But open the doors and you will be transported to the most luxurious ride of your life.
Becker Automotive Design began in the late 1970s by working on European luxury vehicles such as Porsches and Ferraris, adding customized cosmetic touches and embellishing them with upgraded security and technology features. Its customers included well-known clientele in the film and music industries, who began requesting even more innovations to allow them to be productive on the road, between sets, studios and meetings.
In 1996, the company fully embraced a new mission — to transform high-quality SUVs and vans into comprehensive luxury transports. Becker’s customers seek premier vehicles with luxurious, high-tech interiors and upscale, yet inconspicuous exteriors.
“We’re advancing the state-of-the-art standard for productive capacity,” says Howard Becker, founder and CEO. “You can do everything you can do in your office, sometimes faster than in your office, via a mobile router on your commute. If you can utilize that time well, you’ve just leveraged your capability into higher productivity.” Becker Automotive Design operates on the concept that time is money, especially for its extensive list of high-profile clients, including icons such as Barbra Streisand, Jerry Seinfeld, Stevie Wonder, and various members of foreign royal families.
The company works almost exclusively with two vehicles — the Cadillac Escalade ESV and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan — that are the largest and highest-quality SUV and van made today, according to Becker. “Cadillac has done a very good job at advancing every millimeter of their ESV. It has unbelievably good ride quality, a very quiet interior, a reliable drivetrain and beautiful styling. It’s the number one SUV in the world,” he says.
These vehicles provide Becker’s clients with a number of options for size and space. The Cadillac Escalade ESV comes in standard Escalade ESV size (starting at $160,000), as well as two additional options — a raised-roof option that increases the headroom by more than four inches, and an extended-wheelbase option that adds 20 inches of legroom to the rear cabin. Designed to resemble the cabin of a private jet, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan seats six to eight people, with a price range of $200,000 to $450,000.
Becker Automotive Design prides itself on paying attention both to its customers’ needs and ideas and the advancements occurring in technology, engineering and manufacturing. “Our customers are people who have private jets, multiple homes and multiple offices, so they are surrounded by staff at every level. They will demand anything that will continue to improve their ability to get things done on their drive,” he says. Becker’s team frequently will invite clients’ personal staff, such as their IT personnel, to discuss clients’ particular needs, such as how they like to access information, what their favorite entertainment and news sources are, and how they prefer to monitor their homes. All of these factors contribute to the customized design of a client’s vehicle.
Each vehicle produced by Becker Automotive Design can be customized across the board, from choices in wheel base sizes to control systems. The Cadillac Escalade ESV boasts options such as high-speed
Wi-Fi; high-definition video on a 32-inch LCD monitor; and a surround-sound audio system that includes Dynaudio speakers and digital amplifiers. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan passengers may enjoy a Crestron-controlled entertainment system, multiple video monitors, sound insulation, or even a restroom. Both vehicles can be equipped with bullet-proof armor. “Everything that we learned from working with European luxury cars, all of that just fits hand-in-glove for doing these complete vehicle conversions,” Becker says.
On occasion, a client will have special needs that cannot be met by the plethora of existing features, and he or she will approach Becker with a novel idea. The company fully embraces the creative requests it receives from customers; in fact, customers’ unique ideas drive much of the company’s innovation.
“A CEO of a large New York Stock Exchange Company called and said he’s moving his offices from one metropolitan area to another. He now has 45 minutes to use on his commute, so he wanted one of our vehicles. He said he could not replace the time he used to have for cardio in the morning,” says Becker. “We took a recumbent bike, sawed it in half, and modified one of our seats so he could sit with a proper, three-point seatbelt on and crank away on the pedals.” The design team relocated the heart rate monitor beneath the seat and repositioned additional electronics so the client could monitor and program his workouts. The transformation provided him with a vehicle outfitted for optimal professional productivity, as well as a way to continue engaging in healthy habits during his new commute.
Becker and his team are excited about what may be in store for their business in the future. He foresees demand for customized luxury vehicles growing as the automotive industry continues to innovate. “We think when driver-less cars arrive, people are going to relish even more that they can get things done on their commute. They’re going to want to do everything that we provide, in ultimate privacy and comfort,” he says.