Thursday, March 5th0.8°C
25405
24575

India's oldest car factory suspends production of Ambassador sedan to restructure, clear debt

NEW DELHI - India's oldest car factory has abruptly suspended production of the hulking Ambassador sedan that has a nearly seven-decade history as the car of the Indian elite.

It was unclear how long manufacturing will be on hold, but Kolkata-based Hindustan Motors said Monday it hopes to resume making the so-called "Amby" after a period of restructuring and clearing of its debts.

The heavy car's large size and poor gas mileage have driven customers to cheaper competitors from abroad. About 80 per cent of cars sold in India today are small cars that can manoeuvr in crowded cities and that cater to a rising middle class eager for wheels without costs.

The company began making the Ambassador in 1948, modeling it after the British Morris Oxford III. Last year only 2,214 of the vehicles were sold, reflecting a steep decline from production levels in the 1980s around 24,000 vehicles a year.

Also known as the grand old lady of India's pot-holed and pitted roads, the Ambassador has remained largely unchanged for more than five decades in ferrying the elite including prime ministers and high-society celebrities. It recalls an era when India's policy of economic self-sufficiency meant domestically produced cars were the norm.

Its bulbous chassis and bouncy back seats delight tourists and other passengers nostalgic for earlier times, while many in rural India still view white Ambassadors as the de-facto vehicle of officialdom.

Though most Ambassador sales go to taxi services and government departments, "there has been a reduction in demand for the Ambassador," the company said.

"Sturdiness is its hallmark," the company said. "The robust build, it was always seen as a positive point for customers who wanted durability and safety."

Hindustan Motors, which as of September had accumulated losses greater than its assets, said the company's Uttarpara plant, just outside Kolkata in the eastern state of West Bengal, was suffering from problems including very low productivity, growing indiscipline, a critical shortage of funds and lack of demand for the Ambassador.

It announced the indefinite production suspension, including a halt in the payment of salaries to nearly 2,500 employees, in a notice pasted on the factory gates Saturday night.

Hindustan Motors said it plans to reopen the Uttarpara factory after settling debts and restructuring. The plant also makes a 1-ton mini-truck called the Winner as well as car parts.

"If they want to maintain the vehicle, if they want the brand to survive, they will have to think through some changes in pricing, fuel efficiency," said auto analyst Abdul Majeed at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in India. "The middle class, those folks don't worry about comfort and luxury at this point in time. They are only looking at necessity."

Hindustan Motors has been unsuccessful in a long search for new investors. Earlier this year it transferred another car plant based in the south-coast city of Chennai to its financial arm, Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation Ltd. That plant produces Mitsubishi and Isuzu brand vehicles for the Japanese companies.

Shares of Hindustan Motors sank 10 per cent Monday.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News




Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX15103.11+20.271
S&P CDNX696.92-1.17
DJIA18135.72+38.82
Nasdaq4982.81+15.668
S&P 5002101.04+2.51
CDN Dollar0.8007-0.0003
Gold1196.30-4.2999
Oil52.67+0.12
Lumber287.00-3.70
Natural Gas2.844+0.003

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.13-0.005
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.65+0.10
Cantex0.035-0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.184+0.004
Metalex Ventures0.045+0.005
Russel Metals24.27-0.68
Copper Mountain Mining1.240.00
Colorado Resources0.130.00
ReliaBrand Inc0.0065-0.0015
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.045-0.005
Mission Ready Services0.22-0.005

 



25103

FEATURED Property
2162767#2 - 1209 Brookside Ave
3 bedrooms 2 baths
$318,900
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Refinance your mortgage?

Canadian Mortgage rates are low and could be dropping down in time for the spring market following a drop in the Bank of Canada Rate on January 21 by 1/4% which will save new buyers and those with mo...


Creating your retirement vision

A vision means different things to different people. To the head of a large corporation, it’s the ability to chart a course that will deliver success (think Steve Jobs and Apple), to a shaman, i...


It's OK to say 'I'm sorry'

Photo: ContributedStand-up comedians and sitcoms have been making fun of Canadians for being polite as long as I can remember. Being known for our niceness is certainly not a bad thing and I wish more...

_








Member of BC Press Council


24681