The Speculator: V&R's New Sleigh Concept

Legal Aid Santas down Nicollet Mall
All photos by Randy Stern

Santa Claus is an icon in many ways.

For children across the globe, his is a surrogate grandfather who listens, manages the worst behaviors and rewards the nice ones with gifts. For parents, he is a savior to help manage bad behavior at malls or wherever the jolly big guy shows up. For employers, just finding someone to wear the costume help lift spirits across the workplace even when morale is at its lowest.

For certain subsections of gay male society, he is a sex object. With that said, let us move on…

Every year, the iconography of Santa had been co-opted by advertising agencies and public relations teams around the world. "What should we do differently for Christmas this year?" "How clever can we be with ol' Saint Nick?"

Already, we have seen some interesting imagery pertaining to Santa's mode of transport on Christmas Eve. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) always puts up a tracker to see where Santa is located. Lately, OnStar has joined in the "tracking Santa" gig with a command simply to see where NORAD has spotted the Jolly One.

This year, both Ford and Lexus came up with new sleighs for Santa. Ford designed one out of the upcoming Transit Connect van, where the gift capacity is maximized thanks to its expansive cargo hold – through the roof. Lexus went ahead and converted one of its concept cars into the Lexus Flying Luxury Cruiser. Instead of good ol' gift capacity, Santa is treated to high technology from a hybrid drive system to utilizing navigation and Enform to help guide him across the globe.

OK, great, all of this seems a bit much for ol' Saint Nick. I mean…he is real, is he?

Victory & Reseda believes in Santa Claus and have decided to come up with our own sleigh concept for Jolly One – thanks to The Speculator.

Santa, are you ready for your new sleigh?

THE GUTS: V&R figured out that Santa needs capacity, a lighter weight and ultra quick reflexes. It would also be clean, since the last thing anyone wants are exhaust fumes coming down the chimney or reindeer turd on the roof. The project may involve some frankenscience along the way.

First off, the driveline is from the Tesla Model S. Motor Trend may be onto something by crowning the Silicon Valley hero its Car of The Year. After examining the driveline and battery construction, we hoped that Elon Musk would oblige if we strapped his entire drive system – high capacity and ultra-long life Lithium-Ion battery packs included – onto a flat aluminum frame. The frame will also have aluminum upper cross members and a pair of sleigh blades that are made of high-tension aluminum.

Normally, charging would be done by using the electrical grid on Earth. Not with Tesla's driveline. Santa's magic dust fuels a perpetual regenerative energy capture and charge system. The entire system is good for 26 hours travel time with no mileage limitation.

SLEIGH BODY, CABIN AND CARGO HOLD: Tesla and Toyota already collaborate on an electric vehicle – the RAV4 EV. However, the RAV4 is rather small for the task of Santa Claus, so we must have a larger vehicle for greater capacity. Since Santa wants to be a bit stealthy in his travels, it would have to be familiar to children around the world. Therefore, the body would have to be remade in aluminum and securely attached to the upper cross members of the frame.

2013 Toyota Land Cruiser

Yep…the new sleigh would have to be the Toyota Land Cruiser 200.

This may be the first all-aluminum Land Cruiser ever made. Plus, it will be the first Land Cruiser with an electric propulsion system on board. Granted, it lacks the aerodynamics of Lexus' LFLC or the nimble size of Ford's Transit Connect, but the Land Cruiser is an icon where neither vehicle would be even seen in the flesh. This sleigh will have presence and an even smaller footprint than the traditional sleigh-with-reindeer setup.

For Santa, he gets the most comfortable seat in the house inside the Land Cruiser sleigh. There are two power-adjustable leather seats in saddle finish behind what is a typical Land Cruiser dashboard. The instrumentation has been altered to a TFT screen where digital readout include altimeter, battery charging and regenerative system readouts and a center pop-up instant information screen to let Santa know if key destinations or issues on his journey. The dashboard graphics and readout were designed similarly to the Lexus LFA with some technology from Lexus' center screens in the LS and GS mainly.

The center stack is a multi-screen set up with Toyota's Entune system backed by a HDD navigation system and a customized concierge link. Not only does Santa have a rear-view camera, he also has front, dual side, roof and under-chassis cameras he could switch from the steering wheel.

There is a rear seat, but it will remain folded down tonight. Cargo can be accessed by a power-assisted quick-release split liftgate. The trick to the liftgate is a landing sensor that starts opening the upper part of the liftgate as soon the Land Cruiser sleigh touches down. Actuation is quick for both opening and closing to ensure rapid delivery of gifts to everyone.

SAFETY SYSTEMS: The ideas Lexus has were not far fetched. However, within the headlamp assembly are infrared LED lights for clearer vision through any cloud cover. Instead of Rudolph’s one red nose – there are two red lights. Xenon lighting are always on, but have an automatic dimming feature depending on altitude – lower light beams at lower altitude.

Parking and cross-traffic sensors are set up all around the Land Cruiser. It also has an electronic beacon enabler for NORAD to correctly track the sleigh regardless of radar space and international treaties. In fact, the Land Cruiser is recognized by almost every nation as a peace keeping vehicle that passage rights was given to go anywhere Santa needs to – which is also embedded onto the enabler chip. The chip is programmed through the Entune system with messages available via the pop-up screen in the instrument binnacle.

The enabler chip is also part of a satellite communication suite utilized through the Entune system. There is no need for a phone connection as satellite antennas are embedded on the roof with dedicated channels to the North Pole and the concierge at Toyota. Internet and social media are also enabled through specific apps in Entune with voice read back and recognition for responses.

To finish it all off, Toyota created a "Santa Red Mica" color to match his old sleigh.

Yeah, a lot of imagination certainly went into the sleigh. Perhaps on the "night before Christmas," this is a story worth telling.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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