New Delhi, February 11: The notorious brand Ambassador has changed hands with Hindustan Motors offering it to European auto major Peugeot for Rs 80 crore. The Ambassador is based on the Morris Oxford series III model, first made by Morris Motors Limited at Cowley, Oxford in the United Kingdom from 1956 to 1959. Modeled after the British Morris Oxford, the Ambassador was the first car to be made in India and was once a status symbol."We have executed an agreement with the Peugeot SA Group for the sale of the brand Ambassador, including the trademarks. We intend to use the proceeds from the sale to clear dues of employees and lenders," a CK Birla Group spokesperson said.
The Hindustan Ambassador was discontinued in 2014 as sales dropped continuously and it could not keep up with the new generation of cars in the Indian market. In the 1980s, 24,000 units of the car were sold every year, whereas the annual sales trickled down to an average of 6,000 units in the 2000s.
Ambassador soon became a status symbol and the government’s preferred car. Ambassador popularly called ‘King of Indian roads’, the car was also used as a taxi across major cities in the country. The last model, known as Ambassador Encore, was launched in 2013 to match the BS-IV norms in metro cities.
Significantly, Peugeot had a brief three-year presence in India in the mid-1990s, when the Peugeot 309 was assembled and sold by PAL. Last year, Peugeot Citroen announced plans to re-enter India+ by 2018. The company had earlier this year formed a JV with CK Birla Group for the Chennai plant. The tieup was to make use of the Hindustan Motors plant in Chennai as its production unit.