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Friday, January 13, 2006

a car for the masses

When the Maruti Udyog was formed in 1981, it was given to understand that it will produce low priced cars to meet the aspirations of the common man of owning a four wheeler. In December 1983, Maruti launched its first car, Maruti 800, targeted at the masses, as the 'people's car' with a price tag of Rs.40,000 (ex-show room price). Maruti rapidly consolidated its competitive position by launching various other models. In 1984, Maruti introduced a utility vehicle, Omni that could seat up to eight people.

Today, the cost of Maruti 800 has gradually risen and is in the region of Rs 2 lakhs. A news report indicates that one more series of small cars is being launched soon by a Pune based firm.

Gone are the days of the Ambassadors and the Premier Padminis. The former were manufactured in Bengal, and were popular in the North and the East whereas the latter were manufactured in Maharastra and hence were more popular in that region. Even today, the trend remains. The yellow and black taxis are proof. In addition, the Ambassadors are sturdy vehicles which can withstand the wear and tear of our roads and, therefore, are the default choice of Government agencies.. The Premier Padminis, on the other hand, are small and cozy. The only thing is the lack of flashy colors.

In the ocean of new models like the Skoda, the Ford Fiesta, and the Tata Indica that have automated a large range of functions, old fashioned cars like the Ambassadors and Premiers have no takers. Air conditioned Tata Indicas, fondly nicknamed ‘Cool Cabs’, have entered the scene to make long journeys more comfortable. The price range would have, in the past, made people think twice about possessing such miracles but today, the financial companies have their reps positioned in the showrooms to convince you that EMIs are the order of the day. He dangles the car keys in one hand and waves the contract form in the other. It takes tremendous will power not to surrender to the temptation.


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