Hindustan Motors sells Ambassador brand
The Ambassador car is not just any car – it is a car that carries a lot of childhood memories for all those who grew up in the 70s and 80s and the 90s in India. The iconic car brand, best selling car in India for over 3 decades, slowly faded away into oblivion with the onslaught of the smaller, sleeker cars. The car has been out of production since 2014. Hindustan Motors has gone a step further and sold the brand to the French carmaker Peugeot for a paltry $12 mn. It is not known whether Peugeot plans to revive the brand name in a new car.
We take a trip down memory lane to recall the precious moments that the Ambassador has defined for us.
Long Family Trips in the Amby
If you had lived in India in the 70s and 80s, you surely would have made a trip with your family in an Ambassador car. Most likely with 8 family members packed in. Little kids sitting on laps of elders. Windows down and air ruffling your hair. Memories were made in that car. The Ambassador was popular for family trips because it was spacious. The front seat was a continuous one and not a two seater like the cars of these days. It would hold 3 people comfortably and 4 was common.
The common people took the bus and tonga while the privileged took the Ambassador taxi everywhere. The yellow and black taxi was ubiquitous before the days of Uber and Ola. It was even crowned the “Best Taxi in the World” by the BBC show Top Gear in 2013. Even in the 90s, private taxi operators chose the stodgy Ambassador for its sturdiness and Diesel powered engine. The car was even being exported to neighbouring countries to be used as taxis.
The Ambassador Fleet
The big fat white Ambassador was favoured by the Babus and corporates too. The CxOs of companies got an Ambassador with a little screen that slid on a spring that stretched across the back seat. The screen signalled power and elitism. Chief Ministers and their convoys moved with a few dozen Ambys in succession that showed off power and aggression. Come to think of it, there was no other car that could denote power as well as the Amby.
The end of an era
Towards the end of the millennium, when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee switched to a reinforced BMW the Amby was truly abandoned. It signalled the end of the road for the car maker Hindustan Motors. Sales had started to decline steadily with the competition from the small and affordable Marutis and the sleek and smooth Hondas. Hindustan Motors finally decided to draw the curtains on manufacture in 2013, when the sales volume had dropped to a meagre 2000 vehicles.
The Ambassador is an example of how resistance to change with time leads to decline. The iconic brand saw little changes in its design and performance in the three decades that it dominated the market. The market was waking up to its performance issues when they were exposed to better technology. The Amby even failed to pass emission control in 2011 when new norms were announced.
Hoping that the car and the brand will see some kind of revival under the new ownership of Peugeot.