That the sales of the Hindustan Motors Ambassador have been taking a steep dive since ages now is no secret. The West Bengal based carmaker has always been in troubled waters ever since the zippier and more frugal Japanese motors arrived on the horizon. However, it seems that the brand has breathed its last, if an official statement from the company is something to go by. The efforts from the management to continue production and revive the unit have failed, and the work at the plant has been suspended with effect from May 24, 2014.
The iconic car, based on the British Morris Oxford III, the Ambassador was the undisputed leader of the Indian car market for more than two decades before the advent of Maruti. The emergence of international carmakers sidelined the HM Ambassador as a car which was procured and used only by government offices. The car is still used by some government offices, but the model is being replaced by more modern cars at a very swift pace.
While losing its battle against the new adversaries, the Indian company did try its bit by introducing a new model in the Contessa, but the long bonneted limo style car was an antithesis of the compact and frugal machines offered by the Japanese. It didn’t quite work out. Mild spinoffs of the Ambassador platform followed, complying with stricter emission norms, spunkier engine and a few more features, but nothing quite worked.
More recently, we heard some buzz about the company planning a sub four meter version of its car priced at a lower point. A few test specimens of the car were also found doing the rounds on the Indian roads, but the announcement of suspension of work proves that nothing material came out of it. Hardly any profits and a high workforce ensured that this wasn’t a business worth pursuing anymore. You really cannot justify close to 3000 workers producing just five cars a day, can you?
HM is now focusing on its alliance with Mitsubishi and Isuzu and producing cars for the Japanese car makers at its Chennai plant. While Mitsubishi by itself isn’t doing too well either, Isuzu volumes may pick up over a period of time. But the Ambassador, or Amby as the fans fondly call it, is dead for all practical purposes.
The Ambassador also inspired DC to design its AmbieRod concept for the Auto Expo
The once favorite car of the Indians, however, will live on in the history books and the fables which would be etched hard in the hearts of those who had the pleasure of travelling in it. Rest in Peace, Amby, you’ll be missed!