Amby: The Worst End of an Icon
The last time I sat in an Ambassador was in October 2009, after which I never had an opportunity. I am sure all of you already know of Ambassador as the grandpa of the cars.
Hindustan Motors recently announced that they are stopping production of this iconic car. Of course this created a flood of emotions, nostalgic reactions and everything. But one thing that hardly ever came out was anyone saying “Please dont!”.
I am being critical here, of course. Everyone agreed or rather accepted to was Amby had aged and it needed to go down the memory lane because only rare few (most among them them were for Taxi’s in Kolkata and Kerala, ironically states with common political tastes and labor unrests) were even buying it.
Hindustan Motors failed to reinvent Amby in to something more modern. And I assume their last ditch effort to revive was so half-hearted. They may have the Royal Enfield path in their mind and create a niche for themselves, which obviously failed because they didn’t take tough stand. RE had to force through change (the gear leaver from right to left and upgrading its engine) which took them where they are. The Last revision to the car was launched in September 2013 branded as Ambassador Encore (read Press Release).
This is also clear from Amby’s introduction in their own words – “Ambassador – the first car to be manufactured in India, has been ruling the Indian roads ever since its inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford (United Kingdom, 1948), the Ambassador has been undergoing a series of changes, adapting to customer expectations.With upgraded manufacturing facilities in Uttarpara, West Bengal, Hindustan Motors Limited is geared for production of a more contemporary version of the Ambassador, with features catering to the needs of the present generation. Ambassador, the only automobile to ply Indian roads for more than five decades now, has carved a special niche for itself in the passenger car segment. It’s dependability, spaciousness and comfort factor have made it the most preferred car for generations of Indians.”
No doubt it has the back-seat that none of the current crop of cars come close to, but it was a product that created ambition in Indians in ownership and convenience. But if I am sad today that Amby is being phased out, it is because of how the CK Birla and group handled the brand.