Hindustan Motors has sold its iconic brand, Ambassador to the PSA Group in a deal worth Rs 80 crores that will include trademarks as well. HM has indicated that the amount will be used to clear its outstanding dues.
The PSA Group’s plans are unknown and it remains to be seen if it will revive the model or relaunch the brand as a retro-lifestyle offering with an all-new car, à la BMW’s Mini. More details are likely to emerge in the next few days. Interestingly, a few years ago, the Ambassador was featured in an advertisement for Peugeot and it showed a man remodelling the Ambassador to make it resemble a Peugeot 206.
The HM Ambassador was based on the Morris Oxford III model and was brought to India by the Birlas in 1957. It then went on to become a venerable icon of the Indian automobile landscape. During the pre-liberalisation times, the Ambassador became a favourite of the masses, the taxi drivers and the political class. Over the decades, the Ambassador received countless iterations with the Mark series of cars, Nova, ISZ (with an Isuzu engine) and the most recent (03-04) Grand and Avigo versions.
However, most of these changes seemed to be few and far in between when compared to the other modern offerings in the market. Sales dwindled but the Ambassador soldiered on for another decade until production was suspended in 2014 at HM’s Uttarpara plant in West Bengal.
Earlier this year, the PSA Group, parent company of Peugeot and Citroën announced that it would return to India through joint ventures with the CK Birla Group. These joint ventures cover manufacturing, distribution of vehicles in India and a powertrain manufacturing unit, and will be based out of Tamil Nadu.
The PSA Group had in April 2016 revealed its aggressive ‘Push to Pass’ growth plan for the 2016-2021 period. India is part of this plan as per which the carmaker is targeting a partnership deal by 2018 and a product launch before the end of 2021.
(This article first appeared on www.autocarindia.com. Autocar India and Campaign India are Haymarket Group publications.)