Soon there will be a time when we will no longer be able to see the red siren flashing from atop a Hindustan Ambassador speeding down the road. News is that the Finance Ministry has declared that cars with a net dealer price of up to Rs 4,75,000 can be purchased as staff cars by ministries.
This May we had reported that Hindustan Motors has suspended operations at its Uttarpara Plant and now with the budget being allocated towards this purpose, the Ambassador has finally lost its patron.
“The ministry has been receiving requests from various ministries and departments for inclusion of new models of cars or alternatively to purchase certain vehicles for use as staff cars… since many of the approved cars are no longer under manufacture,” the department of expenditure in the finance ministry said in a missive to all ministries earlier this month.
It has been noticed that Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors’ products such as the Swift Dzire, the SX4 and the Indigo are popular with the government officials. In fact, in a previous government-approved list of cars, the Maruti Esteem and the Tata Indigo have already been nominated to replace the Ambassador.
The circular further urged the secretaries of all government departments in consultation with the financial advisors to decide on the make and model of the cars based on parameters including price availability, ease of maintenance, service, fuel economy, eco-friendliness, etc. It also mentioned that the directive also supersedes previous instructions on models approved for use as staff cars.
The original Backseat Babu car was based on the 1950s British Morris Oxford. The production began in 1957 and for many years it was just about the only car available in India and soon the mammoth car was associated with people in power, politicians made sure to perpetuate that image. But as time moved on, the car’s presence began to be dwarfed by other better cars, in fact, the SUVs clearly gave it competition.
Now, the government has a whole plethora of vehicles to choose from but in this aforementioned budget only the A to B+ segment cars fit in. And though they may be faster than the Amby, none can beat it when it comes to road presence or the history associated with it.
The convoy of the Indian Prime Minister and President have let go of the Ambassador for some years now. Former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh used the bullet-proof BMW SUV and our current PM Narendra Modi choice of campaign vehicle was an SUV. These choices clearly indicate that fast, big and grand is the way to go.
Mahindra and Tata Motors could provide the government with some answer to this dilemma, whereas for the staff cars, the segment is wide and Maruti Suzuki seems to be their choice.
Inputs from: Indian Express