Indian automobile industry, although not too old, has made quite a mark on the global level. Within a couple of decades, we have managed to make a stronghold among prominent automobile manufacturing hubs as well as R&D centre. But all was not hunky dory from the beginning and very few cars could be credited with changing the scene in India post Independence.
We did our bit of digging and compiled a list of five such cars which played a major role in setting the future of the automobile industry. This list could be subjective and depends on various factors. We chose the cars that not only in terms of sales, but also in terms of the overall growth of the market, helped India.
Here's a list of the top 5 vehicles that changed the course of the Indian automobile industry!
1. Maruti 800
The car that put India on wheels
Launched - 1983
A list about the Indian Automobile Industry can't simply go away without mentioning the sheer importance of the Maruti 800. Known as the Suzuki SS in Japan, the hatchback was launched in collaboration between the Japanese automajor Suzuki Motors and Indian Government initiative - Maruti. Serving almost 30 successful years in the country, the Maruti 800 saw many variants before finally being discontinued for the good of the brand image. The reason being, the 800 was losing to rivals as well as the company's own Alto. The car came in an era where owning the automobile meant a luxury and only rich people could afford it as a status symbol. But changed the way people used to look at the cars and the very first Maruti 800 was sold for Rs 43500. Emission norms and increasing pressure from feature rich cars like Hyundais forced Maruti to rethink over the product. Eventually, the company decided to stop selling the cars in few big metro cities followed by the rest of the India.
2. HM Ambassador
The car that refused to die
Launched - 1958
This car probably is the face of India and is the first car to be manufactured in India! Hindustan Motors had a very humble beginning after they started assembling the U.K based Morris Oxford. The first model they assembled was the Morris 10 which they sold as the Hindustan 10. With models over the years, Hindustan Motor's Ambassador became a thing of luxury and politicians started using it widely. Popularly called the Amby, it was used as taxis in Kolkatta in huge numbers (the famous yellow cars). But in 80's, the Amby started facing tough challenge from the aforementioned Maruti 800 and its reach was limited to government usage and taxis. But the government's idea to ban the use of Amby as taxi due to emission norms and interest of the politicians in SUVs forced Hindustan Motors to stop the production in 2014. It wouldn't be wrong to say that despite being of British Origins, Amby was more Indian and was rightfully called the "King of the Indian roads".
3. Hyundai Santro
The car that established Hyundai in India
Launched - 1997
Hyundai is the second largest car maker in India right now and the largest exporter too. But nobody thought that the Korean automajor will reach so far when they launched the Hyundai Santro way back in 1997. Known as the Hyundai Atos in Korea, the Santo marked the entry of the company in the Indian sub-continent and it proved worthy. Cars like Maruti 800 and Tata Indica were in high demand here and it was obvious to launch a hatchback to make a mark. The Santro proved a right gamble with the tall-boy stance and spacious cabin with good engine and handling. Hyundai gave the Santro many makeovers over the years and it sold like hot cakes. But in a strategy to push the Hyundai i10 and Hyundai Eon sales and meet the growing demand for the fluidic design language, Hyundai finally pulled the plug from one of the most popular car in 2014, although its production was replaced by i10 in 2007 in many countries. It wouldn't be wrong to say that Hyundai Santro was a major trouble for the Maruti cars.
The first proper Indian SUV
Launched - 2002
The quintessential love for the big and buff SUVs was inflicted by cars like the Tata Sierra and Tata Safari. But the ability to own one was fulfilled by the Mahindra Scorpio. Built by the largest Utility manufacturer in India - Mahindra and Mahindra - they were originally known as the tractor manufacturers before the Scorpio brought the into the category of the mainstream automobile manufacturer. The Scorpio had everything, from being aggressive and bulky looks to low price and spacious interiors. The Scorpio got many makeovers over the year before the company introduced the all-new Scorpio last year built on a completely new chassis with updated features. What made the Scorpio even more interesting was the fact that it was the first car to be built by M&M and yet they made it all in-house without any help from outside the country. The very concept of taking the help of vendors and making a car was unique in itself. With an engine like mHawk, the Scorpio is yet to achieve miles!
The car that established the terminology 'Honda is Honda'
Launched - 1998
Nobody could deny the claim that Honda City is the best selling and the benchmark of premium cars in India. The Honda City nameplate was first used by the Honda in Japan in 1981 as a subcompact car till 1996. In 1996, Honda did a major overhauling with City and based on the Civic platform, they launched it as a sedan. Honda City then entered India in 1998 and although, it didn't strike with the customers well, it soon picked up the pace and in today's time, it is the largest selling premium car in India, miles ahead of any rival. This is the sixth generation Honda City that made its global debut in 2013 in India only and is based on the Jazz platform. This was also the first time Honda offered a diesel engine in the City and that pushed the sales of the car like anything. Currently, Honda is selling some 8000 units monthly in India, almost more than half the nearest rivals, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Hyundai Verna.