Iconic Ambassador brand acquired for INR 80 Cr by the makers of Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles

The brand rights of Hindustan Motors Ambassador car, one of biggest icons of India has been acquired by PSA Group. The French car manufacturer sells vehicles under the Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles brands.

Hindustan Ambassador car
Image Source – Stefan Oemisch

PSA Group was recently in news after the company announced its entry into the Indian market. The French automaker has signed a long term partnership with the C K Birla Group to manufacture and distribute passenger vehicles and powertrains in India by 2020. Tamil Nadu has been selected as the manufacturing site for both vehicle assembly and powertrains.

Hindustan Motors which is a part of the C K Birla group, sold the Ambassador brand, including trademarks to PSA Group for INR 80 crore.

The original HM Ambassador, which once ruled the Indian roads was based on the British made Morris Oxford III. The car was produced at the Uttarpara plant near Kolkata from 1958. The Ambassador was manufactured till 2014 and gave rise to a few variants like the Ambassador Nova, Ambassador Grand, Ambassador Classic, etc. in its lifetime. One of them was the Avigo which tried to inject some modern characteristics to the age old design.

Hindustan Ambassador 2003
Image Source – Araving Sivaraj

This car was once the choice of politicians and bureaucrats. A white Ambassador with a red beacon light commanded respect all over India. A huge number of India’s population has memories associated with the Ambassador, the brand has made its place in the hearts of many. It was also declared as the best taxi in the world by Top Gear in their 20th Series.

The Amby, as people lovingly call it, couldn’t keep up with the more feature rich and safer options that started entering the market. The car was used as a taxi in many cities but was banned after it couldn’t stay up with the new emission norms. HM tried to utilize the platform to its full capacity. A sub-4m compact version was also reported to be under consideration to take advantage of tax benefits but it didn’t make it to the production line. The company even launched a pickup truck based on the Ambassador called the Veer. A BS IV variant called the Ambassador Encore was also introduced before the end of its life.

Hindustan Motors Ambassador Veer Pickup
Hindustan Motors Veer Pickup

Between the years 2013-2014, Hindustan Motors managed to sell around 2200 units, which was the last nail in the coffin for the already struggling company. Finally, the Ambassador was laid to rest after serving the nation for more than 60 years and the plant was shut down.

While Hindustan Motors did not show much enthusiasm towards reviving the dying brand, DC Design a very famous automobile design studio by Dilip Chhabria from India showcased a couple of concepts based on the Ambassador.

DC Design Ambierod concept
Source – DC Design

One of them was the Ambierod. This retro-futuristic concept depicted how the legend car could look if it made its way into the future and was turned into a hot rod. The car was showcased at the 2008 Auto Expo and was reported to be the most expensive model on display at the show.

Another one was a more realistic approach. It was called as the VIP Amby, which was a modern take on the politician’s choice of ride at that time. The car was elongated and fitted with all the features one expects from a high-end luxury car.

DC Design VIP Amby
Source – DC Design

The French company Peugeot is not new to the Indian market. It had teamed up with Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL), the company which produced another iconic Indian car, the Premier Padmini (Fiat 1100). The Peugeot 309 was brought into India by this JV. It was later pulled off the market in 2001 due to various problems faced between both companies.

Peugeot had planned to re-enter the Indian market again in 2011. There were reports about the company setting up a manufacturing plant in Sanand, Gujarat. The Peugeot 208 hatchback and the Peugeot 508 sedan were spotted on test a couple of times on Indian highways. These cars were rumoured to be launched along with the Peugeot 2008 crossover. Due to financial turmoil in the European market at that time, the plans to enter into India were discarded.

It would have been great if an Indian Auto company like Tata Motors or Mahindra & Mahindra would have taken the opportunity to buy the brand and resurrect it. None the less PSA Group also has the expertise to create a new image for the Ambassador that can have a global appeal. Something on the lines of how MINI was shaped under BMW’s ownership would be wonderful.


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