India sells its iconic car brand Ambassador to Peugeot

AFP

NEW DELHI: India’s most iconic car brand Ambassador has been sold to the French auto maker Peugeot by Hindustan Motors for $12 million.

Based on the British Morris Oxford series model, the production of Ambassador cars in India was started in 1958 by Hindustan Motors in Kolkata.

The iconic car is known for being India’s ‘yellow and black taxi’ for decades. It has been the car of choice for government ministers, officials and even the country’s Prime Minister.

Although not confirmed by Peugeot, it is thought that Peugeot will revive the iconic brand through its strategic alliance with India’s CK Birla Group and will be producing cars at Hindustan Motors’ plant in Tamil Nadu.

Peugeot has been trying to get a foothold in India for a long time and it was one of the first foreign auto makers to enter the country in 1990s.

While Ambassador cars were a major hit with Indian families due its strong body, comfortable interiors and its ability to take on the not-so-car-friendly roads of India, more recently the brand struggled to keep up with the pace of changing tastes of the country’s motorists with the advent of foreign cars.

Sales dropped from 20,000 cars in the 1980s to around 2,000 by 2013-14.

Over the years, Hindustan Motors tried its luck by reinventing the Ambassador but finally called it quits.

Peugeot and CK Birla Group have agreed on building cars in India by pumping around €100 million in investment.

May be it is just a matter of time now to see the next model of Ambassador come out of the production line from CK Birla Group’s Chennai-based plant where they make the Mitsubishi Pajero.