The iconic Indian car, the Ambassador has been sold to French auto-maker Peugeot.
The car that was the official conveyance for the Prime Minister and for half the nation, owned by C K Birla Group will be handed over to Peugeot SA Group in exchange for Rs 80 crore – approximately USD 12M on Friday. A spokesperson at CK Birla Group stated, “We have executed an agreement with the Peugeot SA Group for the sale of the brand Ambassador, including the trademarks… We intend to use the proceeds from the sale to clear dues of employees and lenders”.
Production of Ambassador cars may have stopped almost 3 years ago, but for those who childhood were spent in the 60s, 70s and 80s know that the Ambassador wasn’t just a steel bodied family sedan car; it was part of India’s seemingly permanent roadscape….until now!
Peugeot has yet to clarify its intention for the Ambassador brand. Whether they will use it in India or abroad is a question, whose answer is still at large.
The Ambassador brand was introduced some 70 years ago when Hindustan Motors launched the Morris Oxford series II (Landmaster) with minor changes and went on to become a staple form of motored conveyance for the Indian people. But with age, the short comings of a vintage design became apparent and smaller vehicles such as the Marutis became more popular and so from 24,000 units a year in the 1980s, sales figures dropped to 2,500 units for the year 2013-14.
As a result on May 24, 2014, production of the Ambassador was suspended at the Uttarpara factory of Hindustan Motors – a plant whose operations dates back to 1942, making it the second oldest factory in Asia after Japanese giant Toyota.
Peugeot had a brief three-year stint in India in the 90s during which cars like the Peugeot 309 were assembled and sold by PAL. In 2016, Peugeot Citroen announced plans to cater to the Indian market by 2018, following which Joint Venture with CK Birla Group was announced for the Chennai plant. The partnership will utilize the Hindustan Motors production plant in Chennai which currently produces vehicles for Japanese brand Mitsubishi and has a capacity of manufacturing 12,000 units a year.
I guess they’ve lost the bug-eyed old timer to the French. But for now we will make do with the Range Rovers and Jaguars!