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Old 17th April 2014, 15:31   #31
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Default Re: Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene

Not that selling two (or more) generations of cars was enough, we also have had examples of completely discontinued cars being introduced here. Two such cars are:

1. Maruti Suzuki Zen Estilo
This was the first generation Suzuki MR Wagon/ Nissan Moco in Japan sold from 2001-2006. It was introduced in India December 2006 to replace the aging Zen. Japan got the second generation MR Wagon in January 2007.
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Even after the facelift with a better front, attractive colors (silver and blue) and a newer generation K-series engine, sales failed to pick up. The car had to compete with the WagonR which has been a strong seller since a long time. The car is popular with the ladies, maybe because of the visibility it offers. The Estilo and A-Star were replaced recently by the Celerio.

2. Toyota Qualis
The Qualis was the third generation Kijang which was initially sold from 1986-1996. It was given minor changes and introduced in India around 1999.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v12 View Post
The Toyota Qualis marked the entry of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Limited - a joint venture of Toyota Motor Corporation and Kirloskar Group - in India in 2000. Excitement was building up in 1999 amongst the Indian buyers who really expected a good car from Toyota. But in January when Toyota launched the Qualis (short for Quality and Service), reactions were mixed. Potential buyers expected a modern looking vehicle and were disappointed when a dated model was launched. Rival companies rejoiced thinking that an outdated model will never beat their vehicles.

But things took a drastic turn in a few months when people actually "touched and tried" the car. The Qualis introduced at the time when there were only 2 players in the market - the Mahindra Bolero and the Tata Sumo. Although the Qualis was a Multi Utility Vehicle (MUV), it wasnt targeted at MUV buyers. It felt very car like and the quality and refinement of the Qualis was what differentiated between the Bolero and Sumo.
The Qualis got a plastic surgery and is (was?) being sold by ICML as the Rhino.

Source: Wikipedia Entry for Toyota India

Last edited by amolbh : 17th April 2014 at 15:59. Reason: Adding market reactions.
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Old 17th April 2014, 15:40   #32
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Originally Posted by TheARUN View Post
In Andhra Pradesh, the state run Allwyn Company which made watches and fridges got into a joint venture with Nissan to make the Allwyn Nissan Cabstar
Allwyn was also a major bus body manufacturer and so its foray into CV manufacture wasn't strange at all. In late 1970s, they had even tied up with Van Hool, a Belgian bus manufacturer for making low floor integral buses in India but the venture didn't take off.

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Originally Posted by TheARUN View Post
A UP Cloth company DCM got into a joint venture with Toyota and formed DCM Toyota which came out with the DCM Toyota Dyna
DCM wasn't just a cloth company when it entered the CV business. Among other things, the company also made automobile components.
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Old 17th April 2014, 15:59   #33
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Originally Posted by rsidd View Post
Fun read. But I'm not sure about this one:

I see the comfort claim frequently reported, but personally I find Amby back seats hard, uncomfortable on the back, and lacking any head support if you want to sleep.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Like Jeeps, there's a variety of Ambassadors around. Try one with the excellently cushioned back seat. It's a marvel.
It was called Maharaja seat. Quite aptly. My father had it fitted when he had bought a second hand Amby. I don't think it came as standard fitment.

Excellent thread. Thank you.
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:08   #34
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post

The youth of today - having seen only modern cars - won't believe us if we tell them that a road-trip in the eighties entailed a full car checkup, carrying extra hose pipes, fan belts, fuses and, in some cases, a fuel-pump! Additionally, switching off the air-conditioner on ghat sections was a regular practice with 'em under-powered cars. The current crop of automobiles require little other than a full tank of fuel and tyre pressure check before a 2,000 kms road-trip.
I can remember this quite vividly.

We owned an NE118, a Ford Escort 1.8 Diesel and a Fiat Uno Diesel.

Although the Uno was slightly better, both the Ford and NE118 required their A/Cs to be turned off when climbing a steep hill/ under full load.

The Escort was in fact the most horrible car in this aspect and my dad used make fun of it by saying that the A/C switch should be moved onto the Gear Lever and then Ford could claim to be selling a car with 10 forward gears, that was how differently the vehicle behaved with the A/C off.
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:18   #35
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Awesome fun to read! Rated a well deserved 5 Stars. Hope to come across many more such interesting trivia.

I think the Suzuki F8B is the longest running engine in production in India. The 796cc, 2 valves/cyl engine started with the Maruti 800 in 1983 and still continuing with the Omni. Please correct me if I'm wrong though.

I had a query on similar lines: which was the first two door to be manufactured in India? Is it the Standard Herald, or did we have something before that?
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:41   #36
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We once had a M800 sized hatchback sold in India, which was rear wheel drive.

Which one? The Sipani Dolphin, which was essentially the British Reliant Kitten.

Last edited by KiloAlpha : 17th April 2014 at 16:43. Reason: Fact check
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:44   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
I can remember this quite vividly.

We owned an NE118, a Ford Escort 1.8 Diesel and a Fiat Uno Diesel.

Although the Uno was slightly better, both the Ford and NE118 required their A/Cs to be turned off when climbing a steep hill/ under full load.

The Escort was in fact the most horrible car in this aspect and my dad used make fun of it by saying that the A/C switch should be moved onto the Gear Lever and then Ford could claim to be selling a car with 10 forward gears, that was how differently the vehicle behaved with the A/C off.
I still own a ford escort 1.8 LX bought by me in 1997. Though it has now been reduced to a city runabout because of the innova and fortuner it has just crossed 1 lakh kilometers and is still serving quite well. Regarding the air con I find no need of switching it off on the plains it you use the gearbox well but yes on the hills it did help.
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:54   #38
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Very insightful thread GTO.
According to my dad, Ambassadors of the early sixties and before were welded again after they were sold. Some owners would apply a coating of brass and repaint the cars.
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Old 17th April 2014, 16:58   #39
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The Honda Accord was poised for an India entry in the 80's via Tata Motors. Permission wasn't granted by the Government though.
This was in spite of Tata's commitment to export 50% of the intended annual production of 40,000 cars!

Permission was earlier refused to Tata for foreign collaboration for the proposed LCV foray. So, TM launched its ambitious "Project Jupiter" whereunder the company was to create an indigenous LCV within 18 months flat! The end result was Tata 407. The 18 month deadline was also met although the product was developed from scratch! That's how the famous Sumant Moolgaonkar ran Tata Motors! In contrast, the Tata Motors of 21st century takes 4 years to launch Safari 18!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The Tata 407 was well-priced, overload-friendly, reliable, quick and had unmatched after-sales support. It singlehandedly demolished the LCV dreams of Toyota (DCM), Nissan (Allwyn), Mazda (Swaraj) and Mitsubishi (Eicher).
The intial 407s weren't as overload friendly as the larger Indo-Jap LCVs (Allwyn Nissan Cabstar excluded) which, because of their larger, more powerful engines made economic sense only when overloaded - their rated payload was only 3 tonnes. Tata is said to have used its influence at RTOs to get the MV Rules against overloading strictly enforced! A lot of hue and cry was raised by the Indo-Jap LCV makers over this. This was reported in Business India. By mid 1988, TM had launched an improved 407 whose GVW was increased to 5.3 tonnes.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The 1st price-cut in Maruti's history was carried out hours before the Indica's launch. That's how nervous the Indica (and the hype around it) made the folk in Delhi. On 30th December 1998, it brought the 800's price down to 1.85 lakhs and pushed Maruti to introduce a sub-3 lakh base variant of the Zen.
Maruti also indulged in dirty tricks at that time. It used its influence over its AC supplier Subros (also Tata's vendor for Indica) to deliberately delay deliveries of AC units to Tata Motors. As a result, TM could only deliver the non-AC Indicas intially!

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
50:50 partnerships are never a good idea; one partner should have the majority, even if it's only by a percentage.
Not necessarily. Tata has successful ongoing 50:50 JVs with Cummins, Marcopolo and Fiat!

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
JLR contributes to over 75% of Tata Motors group profits. Buying JLR was one of the rare good decisions Tata Motors has made in the last decade.
Yet, some analysts had criticised TM at the time of buyout on the ground that in a recession hit, environment-conscious world, it wasn't wise to invest in a luxury car company!

Quote:
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The gap between the 1st & 2nd Auto Expos was a massive 7 years (1986 - 1993). Lack of industry action? Now, it's held every 2 years.
Before the Auto Expo, auto companies used to participate in what was known as the India Engineering Trade Fair ("IETF"). CII was then CEI - the Confederation of Engineering Industry! Auto Expo is IETF by another name!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Some Indian car dealerships regularly run up losses. Their owners couldn't be any less bothered though. They view the dealership as merely a channel to convert black money into white.
The invented losses keep your tax liability low!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The Astra was launched with an extremely lazy 1.6L LZ2 engine.
It also came with 165/80/14 tyres!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Volvo has realised that its passenger cars will never see success in India. We're too brand conscious, especially when paying top rupee. Despite massive dealer discounts, their cars refuse to move. Volvo has Audi, Mercedes & BMW to fight on one (higher) side and VW / Skoda on the (cheaper) other. Volvo is neither here nor there.
Volvo is now partly owned by the Chinese! With the Chinese market in mind, the management plans to replace the "understated Swedish luxury" with flashy "Chinese ostentation". That might help increase sales in India too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Hyundai, Nissan & Maruti are the top vehicle exporters from India (in that order), regularly clocking in 6-digit numbers, year after year.
Curious to know why you haven't mentioned Ford India that has always exported a big chunk of its production. Maruti's exports are a joke, if looked at from the viewpoint of % of production. In fact, the outflow of foreign exchange from Maruti to Suzuki (by way of royalty for technology, dividend and trademark user rights) exceeds the inflow from exports!


Quote:
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In the early 2000s, Tata was going to launch a full-size RWD sedan called the Magna (pic). The company quickly figured out that it'll be a tough sell, more so since the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Mondeo & Toyota Camry were all headed here.
It was a sensible decision. Magna shared its engine, gearbox and some other parts with the Safari. It was meant to be made on Safari's production line too! Magna's design was copied from Lexus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Maruti's R&D became so complacent that it couldn't even design a gearbox on its own. It was literally begging for "gearbox technology" from Suzuki at the same time that the Indica & Scorpio were developed in India.
Maruti never had any R&D deptt. in India so the question of complacency does not arise! Everything in R&D was done in Japan. All of Maruti's decisions were and are still dictated by the Japanese. Not transferring gearbox technology was Suzuki's tactic to make more money out of Maruti! Faced with depleting foreign exchange reserves, it's no wonder that the Govt. of India protested!
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Old 17th April 2014, 17:10   #40
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Excellent thread GTO. Incredible facts well put together.

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Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
2) The RX 100 when launched in the late 80s had a bigger capacity engine (110 cc?) and was sold as a 100 cc. Now a days, we call 98 cc as 100 cc.
May I point out to you that:
Hyundai used to sell getz as a 1.3 l, but it had a 1341 cc engine. Toyota used to sell qualis as 2.4 l, but it had a 2446cc engine. And KTM sells the 990 Super Duke(999cc) and 1290 duke(1301cc), though not in India(200,390,690 are produced).
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Old 17th April 2014, 17:21   #41
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Quote:
The 1st price-cut in Maruti's history was carried out hours before the Indica's launch. That's how nervous the Indica (and the hype around it) made the folk in Delhi. On 30th December 1998, it brought the 800's price down to 1.85 lakhs and pushed Maruti to introduce a sub-3 lakh base variant of the Zen. Ratan Tata chuckled & said "We have some good news for even those who are NOT booking the Indica. We have got the prices of Maruti cars slashed for you." News link.
I personally feel that the advertisement campaign of Tata Motors before the launch of Indica had started sending shivers to Maruti. I was a beneficiary of this price cut and bought a Maruti 800 that time.

Thought of sharing these advertisement pictures again so that we can revisit the earlier time, though they have been shared in the forum earlier as well.

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Can someone highlight when was the first 5 speed Maruti 800 launched. I believe this was after the launch of Indica. The deluxe variant of Maruti had 5speed gearbox and so was the case with Indica. Though, I am not sure about it but some members may be knowing this.

Last edited by mints21 : 17th April 2014 at 17:25.
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Old 17th April 2014, 17:30   #42
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Don't Know if its already posted.
Maruti Suzuki Manesar Detroit of India
A car rolls out of Maruti's Manesar Plant every 0.6 seconds at full production capactiy.It has a total production capacity of 5,50,000 vehicles per annum.
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Source: Had heard about the production time at a seminar conducted by ARAI folks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maruti_Suzuki
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Old 17th April 2014, 18:11   #43
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Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
Can someone highlight when was the first 5 speed Maruti 800 launched. I believe this was after the launch of Indica. The deluxe variant of Maruti had 5speed gearbox and so was the case with Indica. Though, I am not sure about it but some members may be knowing this.
I think it was launched towards the end of 1999; definitely after the Indica launch. I believe it was discontinued around early 2003 or so.
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Old 17th April 2014, 18:12   #44
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Almost everybody born in 80s will have a relationship with Ambassador. When I was a kid, we used to fight to sit in the lap of the person at front corner seat! That was because of the 'cut-window' which will blow air at your face when the car is moving.

Air-condition was a luxury at that time and the 'cut-window' was a boon! This feature disappeared on future Ambassadors (BHPians-from which year/model ?)

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Old 17th April 2014, 20:17   #45
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My two Bits on this lovely thread.

1. The Daewoo Matiz was probably the only car where you could both push and pull the clutch pedal to engage the clutch.

2. The entire Bajaj scooter series - Chetak, Super and Cub had a waiting period of more than 6 months.
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