Peugeot has bought the iconic Indian car maker Ambassador. In a demonstration of just how steep the fall has been for Ambassador, once the personal transport of choice for the Indian ruling class, the French manufacturer paid just $12m for its entire operation.
CK Birla Group, which controlled Ambassador’s parent company, Hindustan Motors, sold it after ceasing production of the Ambassador in 2014. Its mainstay in production was based around the Morris Oxford, which predated even the British car industry’s own long decline, but its plant has not produced a new car in three years.
While PSA, Peugeot’s parent company, hasn’t decided what it will do with its new-found Indian production capacity and fallen brand, it had already signed a joint venture with the Birla Group to use capacity of 100,000 units by 2020.
While the Ambassador remains popular with tourists and taxi drivers in India, politicians and senior government officials now prefer more luxurious, modern SUVs.
PSA was one of the first major companies to enter India when it was opened to foreign investment in the 1990s. But it left in 1997 after a protracted argument with its partner.
The purchase makes it even more ironic that Peugeot used an Ambassador in an international advertising campaign in 2004. You probably remember it: the one in which a guy bashed his Ambassador around until it resembled a Peugeot 206. If you don’t know it, watch it below. – Mark Smyth