Maruti Suzuki has reasons to be grateful to the famous Hindustan Ambassador car – first made by Morris in Oxford in 1957 and now a symbol of India’s transition to industry.
During the launch in Delhi last month of the Suzuki Alto – the new small car for the Suzuki range that will be shipped to the UK early next year – Maruti Suzuki explained that part of the reason that it has grown to be market leader is that it seized the initiative in setting up a European-style dealer network.
Now the company has a market share of 54%, command of the largest dealer network, and such a big lead on Hindustan that it believes that it will remain in front. (Hindustan is joint-ventured with Mitsubishi on car and GM on truck).
The Ambassador has been the car for state occasions since its introduction. It was always deemed comfortable, and the lack of speed had no relevance because of the state of Indian roads.
But as security has become a greater issue in India, the Ambassador has gone and an armour-plated BMW 7 Series has arrived for the Prime Minister.
The Ambassador was the car on which every blacksmith in India learned his trade and gradually made the transition from iron-monger to motor mechanic.
Maruti Suzuki sought out the best of these workshops across India, offered franchises, and those workshops now make up the network that supports Suzuki.
- Read this story in full in the 23 Jan 09 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.