The HM Ambassador recently got axed and the iconic car will no more be produced or sold. Hindustan Motors started selling the Amby in India in 1958 and the vehicle continued to be sold till 2014. The Amby never got any major overhaul and HM kept on selling the half-century old model even when the market was flooded with modern competition. The company blamed low sales of the car along with high losses for shutting down the factory in Uttarpara, West Bengal. Somewhere it was the manufacturer’s fault too, when they kept selling something without any updates, zero marketing, poor technology and still expected things to run fine.
So, let’s have a look at the five reasons that killed the HM Ambassador –
1) Poor marketing strategy – While other vehicle manufacturers have their marketing departments who promote their products on social networking sites, radio, TV, magazines, etc. with witty taglines and interesting information, HM officials were busy sleeping. The company never even tried to take any efforts to market the Ambassador. They expected the product to sell on its own and poor marketing is a sure shot recipe for any product’s failure in today’s times.
2) No major updates – The HM Ambassador never got any major updates in the past 50-odd years. While the overall design remained the same with small redesigned parts added every now and then, the product was still considered old and very rightly so. The Amby came with no technology at all and the management from Hindustan Motors never took competition into consideration. They still felt that the Ambassador has no true rivals.
3) No good engine options – Hindustan Motors had a partnership with Mitsubishi in India. Mitsubishi is known for its amazing driver-oriented vehicles and it would have been very wise had HM borrowed some knowledge from its Japanese business partner. Mitsubishi has some great engines on offer and the Amby really deserved a new and modern engine that would provide good performance as well as fuel efficiency.
4) High pricing – The Ambassador was priced between Rs. 5-8 lakhs depending on the variant. Come on HM, the Amby is on sale since 50 years so we are sure that the company must have recovered all the development and infrastructure costs for the factory long back. Not a lot of money was being invested in the product’s R&D and yet the company showed us how profit-hungry it is by not reducing the prices of the retro car at all. There was really no justification for the price that the sedan commanded since no money was being spent on marketing as well.
5) Not creating a new customer base – The HM Ambassador was mostly bought by politicians and ministers who loved the comfort of the car. Ambys with ‘laal-battis’ are still a common sight in many parts of the country. Another segment that loved the vehicle was the taxi segment. While Mumbai doesn’t have any Ambassador taxis any more, cities like Kolkata still make use of the iconic car as cabs. Hindustan Motors never felt the need to modernise the car and cater to a completely new and different segment of customers. It seems they were really happy with the limited sales of the vehicle. The end result is here now for all of us to see!
Just because a vehicle is termed as iconic doesn’t really mean that you sell it without taking any efforts. Even the Volkswagen Beetle and MINI are iconic cars, but look how they have been modernised to keep up with the present day customers’ requirement. The new Beetle and MINI do carry some of their retro styling elements, but overall they are completely new cars coming with modern engines, latest technology and all the safety features too. Now this is how true iconic cars are revived and HM should have learnt something from them.
Anyway, nothing can be done now so let’s bid goodbye to a memorable vehicle that bites the dust!