Ambassador, the iconic Indian car brand is being sold to French carmaker Peugeot.
Indo-French Business Relations | | Times of India
KOLKATA: 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, Ambassador 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 three-year 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.