The end of the HM Ambassador has opened a whole new taxi market up for grabs in Kolkata that multiple auto manufacturers are eyeing.
Leading auto manufacturers Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and now Fiat India have joined the race of capturing the newly resurrected taxi market in the city of Kolkata that was once ruled by the legendary HM Ambassador. With Hindustan Motors having suspended operations at its Uttarpara plant, West Bengal, the iconic Amby ended its production run earlier this year after decades of ruling Indian roads. The Kolkata taxi market which was once the Amby’s mainstay is now looking at other robust options that will continue to perform duties offering improved comfort, performance and ease of maintenance.
While Tata Motors is an established name in the taxi space with stripped down variants of the Indigo sedan, Maruti Suzuki too made in-roads in the recent years with the DZire compact sedan. However, it is Fiat India that is watching this market very closely and is working on a stripped down version of the Linea sedan. The west Bengal state transport department recently announced permit to 3000 new taxis and the company is looking to bring the Linea as a potential replacement to the Amby.
Fiat India has already started to sell the stripped down Linea across Mumbai and Delhi, while Kolkata is the next major market on the list. The company is waiting to get approval from the West Bengal government that will authorise the use of the Linea as city taxis. While the regular Linea is priced around Rs. 7 lakhs (ex-showroom, Kolkata), the stripped down version will be priced around Rs. 6.22 lakhs to compete against the Ambassador’s price tag of Rs. 5.60 lakhs.
The Fiat Linea being offered for the taxi market will be the pre-facelift model and is expected to get further cost cutting compared to the current version. Expect to see the car stripped away from the subtle chrome garnish, premium fabric seats, wheel covers as well as power windows. However, the long wheelbase and a 500+ litre boot space should certainly make the Linea a good taxi, not to forget its structurally more safe than the flimsy DZire.
Source – Business Standard