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Ambassador ranked the best taxi in the world by Top Gear
PTI | Jul 21, 2013
The Hindustan Ambassador motor car started life in Britain as the Morris Oxford but, with a quick name change, it went on to become one of India's most enduring vehicles. In 1948, CK Birla Group firm Hindustan Motors Ltd began the production of the Ambassador at Uttarpara in Hooghly district, West Bengal.
Till the arrival of the Maruti in the early 80s [and then other makes], the Ambassador was the [car used by government officials and txais] in India. Gradually it lost out to various global competitors when it came to personal usage but continued to be the favourite vehicle for government officials and also in the taxi segment.
Its sales in both segments have shown a decline and in 2012-13, the Ambassador sold a total of just 3,390 units. In 2013 it sold only 709 units in the April-June period.
Endures as a taxi
In a 2013 show, which is being aired on the BBC’s global automotive programme Top Gear's executive director Richard Hammond organized a world taxi shootout in which Ambassador emerged a winner, beating competitors from all over the globe.
UK-based motor museum Beaulieu, where the 'World of Top Gear' featuring vehicles from some of the most ambitious challenges are also showcased, said this a statement.
This particular example proved just how enduring the Ambassador really is when it saw off rivals from Britain, America, Germany, South Africa, Mexico and Russia to be named the world's best taxi, it added.
"It's (Ambassador) so tough that, although it now lives in World of Top Gear, with a quick wash and brush up, it could be back in service tomorrow - probably," the statement said.
2017: HM sells Ambassador car brand to Peugeot
Ambassador, the iconic Indian car brand that till less than a decade ago carried both the Prime Minister and the common man, is being sold to French carmaker Peugeot. The C K Birla Group-owned Hindustan Motors formalised the deal for Rs 80 crore on Friday . Production of Ambassador cars had stopped around three years ago.
“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,“ a CK Birla Group spokesperson said. To those who grew up in the 1960s and 70s, Ambassa dor wasn't just a car; it was an inseparable part of India's urban landscape. The car's absence of looks was never in doubt. But in an era of limited choices, the spacious fourwheeler was the preferred choice for most Indians who could afford it. Even today for many , the car remains synonymous with memories of their fonder and younger days and a marker of a more innocent India. It is not clear if Peugeot will use the Ambassador brand for its cars in India. A questionnaire mailed to the French company remained unanswered.
The Ambassador brand was introduced seven decades ago when Hindustan Motors launched the Morris Oxford series II (Landmaster) in a new avatar with minor changes. It quickly became a national icon and continued to dominate Indian roads till the 1980s, when the Maruti 800 exposed its inadequacies.
From 24,000 units a year in the mid-1980s, sales slumped to less than 2,500 units in 2013-14.On May 24, 2014, the inevitable happened when work was suspended at the Uttarpara factory of Hindustan Motors. The Uttarpara plant dates back to 1942, making it the second oldest in Asia after Japanese giant Toyota.
Peugeot had a brief threeyear presence in India in the mid-1990s, when the Peugeot 309 was assembled and sold by PAL. Last year, Peugeot Citroen announced plans to re-enter India by 2018. The company had earlier this year formed a JV with CK Birla Group for the Chennai plant. The tieup was to make use of the Hindustan Motors plant in Chennai as its production unit. The Chennai plant currently produces vehicles for Mitsubishi and has a capacity of manufacturing 12,000 units a year.