One of the first cars made in India, Ambassador could be back from oblivion, in a rejuvenated avatar. French carmaker Peugeot-Citroen (PSA Group), recently, bought the iconic brand from its six-decades old owner CK Birla-owned Hindustan Motors and now plans to re-launch it in the Indian market in a revamped version.
CK Birla Group has also entered into an agreement with the French company to roll out its cars in India, in a proposed Rs 700 crore joint venture.
The new car could be rolled out from Tamil Nadu facility (assembles Mitsubishi cars and Isuzu commercial vehicles ) of Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation Limited (HMFCL). The facility is part of the venture, PSA Group has entered as a majority stakeholder, for assembly and distribution of its passenger cars in India and for exports. PSA aims to manufacture and introduce its cars in India by 2020, and will probably have newer models and plans for the country.
There are expectations that it would introduce a hatchback in the market, as the segment generates half of the demand in the country. Birlas have sold the Ambassador brand as well as its trademarks to PSA Group, and now the French company will settle dues of employees and lenders of the erstwhile Hindustan Motors. So, now French own the brand, which originated from British Morris Oxford III. Ambassador was the quintessential car for politicians and Indian bureaucrats, before they switched over to contemporary Sx4 , Ciaz and Toyota Corolla. In its new avatar, however, the car might not have its original design and technology, and an all new car may be in the offering.
After 56 years of production, Hindustan Motors decided to stop producing the Ambassador cars in 2014, as the model failed to compete with the new generation of cars and huge stocks piled up at the plant. Hindustan Motors has made several attempts in the past few years to re-launch Ambassador on a new platform with technical changes, but all efforts were in vain.
It had, reportedly, roped in design firm Onio Design, for re-designing the car in way that its original look and iconic style was maintained. The company also failed to upgrade to stricter emission norms in the given time frame. The last Ambassador was rolled out of Hindustan Motor's Uttarpara facility in 2014.
Re-vamping Ambassador to a new version is certainly going to be a challenge for PSA Group as it would not be easy to upgrade the car to safety norms like crash tests and airbags, which are becoming norms for new cars this year. They would also have to introduce the latest craze of new digital dashboard with Bluetooth connectivity and other gadgets in the car, if they want the new version to be as successful as the old one.