In the past there have been some cars that made a brief appearance on Indian roads and then were very rarely seen as the company pulled the plug on them for slow sales due to a variety of reasons. Some of the cars were ahead of their time. In some cases, the car companies didn’t have the muscle to market the cars. And in some cases the cars themselves were duds.

We put together the Indian List of Horrible Failures picking the 10 cars that actually had potential to be hits but ended up as duds, with hardly any being sold. Take a look and do tell us if you can think of more that deserve honorable mentions.

Sipani Dolphin (1982-1990)

sipani dolphin photo

Why it flopped: Unheard of company, poor marketing. The Maruti 800 killed it

Sipani Automobiles is a little known automotive company based in Karnataka. They have made cars like the three-wheeled Badal (based on the Reliant Robin) and which later morphed into the Dolphin (based on the Reliant Kitten) in 1982. The Dolphin had an all-fibre glass body and initially came in a two-door variant only, with a 848 cc, 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. The car was quite a spirited performer and was a delight among enthusiasts.  But being a two-door fibre-glass body, it didn’t find many takers. In 1983, the Maruti 800, forced the Dolphin on to the back foot, and it was replaced with the Sipani Montana – a four-door variant. This too failed to find many takers. Sipani attempted to take on the 800 with yet another car, the Sipani D-1, a 1.5 litre diesel-engined fibre-glass car in 1989, but that too failed, because of the lack of marketing muscle and poor after sales service. The car died by 1990.

Rover Montego (1991-1995)

rover montego india photo

Why it flopped: High prices and dismal marketing and after-sales from Sipani

Sipani Automobiles is one automobile company in India that has managed to fail with almost every product it made. From the three fibre-glass cars – the Dolphin, Montana and D1, it also went on to introduce one of India’s first luxury cars – the Rover Montego in two variants. The Montego was available as a sedan and as a station-wagon in 1991. It came with a 2-litre diesel engine, 5-speed manual transmission, power steering, windows, AC and all the comforts you could think of in a good modern car. The car itself was a good product, but the price tag of Rs. 11 lakh was too steep for the time. By 1995, Sipani was too deep in financial trouble to continue making or selling these cars and very few were sold.

Standard 2000 (1985-1988)

standard 2000 india photo

Why it flopped: Underpowered engine, terrible gearbox and horrible mileage!

The Standard 2000, made by the Chennai-based Standard Motors, was ahead of its time in India. It was introduced in 1985, but died just three years later. The body of the Standard 2000 was lifted straight from the Rover SD1. It was available for Rs. 2.2 lakh then, and was seen as one of the best affordable luxury cars in the market. It had a good AC, amazing fit and finish, spacious interiors, power windows, hydraulic power steering, and a dashboard with so many gauges that it resembled an aircraft. The biggest let down, however, was the engine. Standard used a 2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine from an old 1948-design Vanguard. This was mated to a terrible 4-speed manual transmission that was taken from the Standard 10 van. The car also gave horrific mileage of about 6 kmpl. Some Standard 2000 owners junked the engine and gearbox and put in imported Toyota and Nissan diesel units that fared decently, but they failed due to lack of parts and poor marketing by Standard Motors.

Maruti Baleno Altura (2002-2005)

maruti baleno altura india photo

Why it flopped: No takers for station-wagons in India, too expensive

Maruti has seldom failed with a car. But one of the biggest flops it had was the Baleno Altura – the stationwagon variant of the Maruti Baleno. The Baleno itself didn’t do pretty well compared to the competition. However, the Altura, powered by a 1.6-litre, 94 bhp petrol engine, was introduced in 2002, after the Baleno sedan. However, the Altura failed to entice buyers despite its good looks and practicality. The problem again was price, as it was priced at Rs. 7.5 lakh at the time, a bit too expensive compared to the competition. Altura production was stopped in 2005, selling very few units, while the Baleno sedan was discontinued in 2007 after a fairly good run.

Mahindra Voyager (1997-2000)

mahindra voyager india photo

Why it flopped: Expensive van, ahead of its time

Before Mahindra managed to make good utility vehicles that could carry passengers in comfort, it attempted to take on the Maruti Omni, by introducing a bigger van in a tie up with Mitsubishi. The Voyager, introduced in 1997, was powered by Mahindra’s 2.1-litre Peugeot diesel engine that did duty in the Mahindra MM540, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. It was one of the first MUVs to come with lots of interior space and comfort, and with dual-row air-conditioning. However, for a price of over Rs. 5 lakh, it found limited buyers. Production of the Voyager stopped in 2000, after an ill-fated run.

PAL Peugeot 309 (1994-1997)

peugeot 309 india photo

Why it flopped: The company flopped, the car was a gem!

The Peugeot 309, introduced through a joint venture with Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL) in 1994, had all the potential of being a cult car and was very well accepted when it came into the Indian market. It had a very fuel-efficient 1.5 litre diesel engine and a capable petrol, 1.4 litre, 75 bhp engine too. The 58 bhp diesel engine from the Peugeot 309 was also used in the Maruti Esteem diesel, Zen diesel and the Hyundai Accent diesel. The Peugeot 309 was a tough car, with great ground clearance and decent road manners. However, the company failed to market it or provide good service back up. The joint-venture died due to labour problems and financial trouble with PAL and so did the car in 1997.

Opel Vectra (2002-2004)

opel vectra india photo

Why it flopped: Quirky electronics, ahead of its time

The Opel Vectra was a luxury car that had the potential of leading the D-segment in India. It was priced around Rs. 16 lakh when it was introduced in 2002. It had a robust 2.2-litre, 146 bhp petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. However, the car was ridden with problems related to its very complicated electronics. It had all kinds of on-board diagnostic software but just couldn’t stand up to Indian driving conditions and hence spent most of its time in service stations. It sold for just about two years before General Motors pulled the plug on it. The company was anyway killing the Opel brand in India, focusing instead on the Chevrolet brand.

Ford Mondeo (2002-2007)

ford mondeo india photo

Why it flopped: Too expensive, ahead of its time

Ford’s attempt to enter the luxury market in India also met with very limited success. The Mondeo is a car that has sold well globally, but in India, it just didn’t catch the fancy of buyers in the D-segment, when it was introduced in 2002 as an import. It was a great driver’s car and caught the fancy of some enthusiasts. But in general, buyers didn’t think it was value for money compared to its competitors like the Accord and the Camry. It was powered by a 2-litre petrol engine that put out 142 bhp of power with a five-speed manual transmission. It also had a 2-litre 128 bhp, duratorq, diesel variant that was a lot more fuel-efficient, but the petrol was more fun to drive.

San Storm (1998-today)

san storm photo

Why it flopped: Pseudo-sports car, underpowered, poor marketing and sales network

India’s first and only convertible after the erstwhile Standard Herald was the San Storm made in Goa in 1998. San Motors was bought out by Kingfisher head honcho Vijay Mallya in an attempt to market India’s first convertible sports car and a coupe variant as well. The two-seater car was made entirely of fibre-glass making it very light. It had a Renault-sourced 1.2 litre engine that put out 60 bhp of power – just about at par with regular hatchbacks and hence not much in terms of sporty performance. It had a five-speed manual transmission and very little luggage space. The car can still be ordered from San Motors in Goa, but has not sold even a few units in the past few years.

Chevrolet SRV (2006-2009)

chevrolet srv photo

Why it flopped: Too expensive a hatchback for the Indian buyer

The Chevrolet SRV was the Chevrolet Optra hatchback variant that was introduced in India in 2006. It was more premium than most premium hatchbacks of the time, priced at around Rs. 7 lakh. It was a true hot-hatch, with a 100 bhp, 1.6 litre petrol engine. The mechanicals were all based on the Optra sedan. The car had plenty of interior space and good handling, with a reasonably spacious boot for a hatchback. But because of its premium pricing, and the fact that the Indian market was not ready for such a large hatchback, it was discontinued in 2009, barely three years later with only a limited number being sold. Parts are not a problem though as the Optra sedan is still in production.

These 10 cars are what we think is the list of cars that really failed in India. Cars such as the Tata Estate, a station-wagon variant of the Premier Padmini (the Starline), and the Mahindra Scorpio Petrol Rev 116 can also get honorable mentions. And there are others too that just aren’t selling in India, like the Maruti Grand Vitara and Mitsubishi Outlander, which may cease to exist if they continue their dismal performance. Have you owned or do you think any other car should make it to this list of failed cars in India? Let us know in the comments below!


Photo Sources: Team-BHP: 1,







75 replies

  1. Profile photo of Srinivas RamaDasu
    Srinivas RamaDasu answers:

    Indian market was too conservative n few of the cars mentioned were way ahead of times.. but want cant be understood is as to y no one comes wit a convertible priced around 6 to 10L.. surely has a decent fan following.. thanks to English movies.. and unfortunately the pricing dynamics flop the car.. not the car itself is the reason. i am auto enthusiast, would love to be a part of such a forum wherein that gives information about the auto industry.

  2. Profile photo of Divit Khullar
    Divit Khullar answers:

    felt vry bad abt Opel Vectra its amazing if its available @2002

  3. Profile photo of Muzammil Husain Suri
    Muzammil Husain Suri answers:

    mitsubishi cedia also very rare on indian road.

  4. Babychen Mathew answers:

    I seriously considered the Vectra (used) instead of a new Civic. But every owner said they faced electronics related problems. beautiful car otherwise!

  5. Profile photo of Aravindhan
    Aravindhan answers:

    I liked the Mahindra Voyager for its practical design.

  6. Profile photo of Sharadh Srivastava
    Sharadh Srivastava answers:

    I owned a second-hand Sipani Montana petrol from 1994 to 1999. It was a great vehicle for the price, and more spacious than the M800 or the Zen. However, parts were a problem (available only in Bangalore), and by 1998 a lot of newer n better cars were available… Mine is still running around somewhere with the new owner!

  7. Profile photo of Vivek Kumar
    Vivek Kumar answers:

    Peugeot was my favourite and SRV was a super sports hatch back… Loved its looks!! 😀

  8. Profile photo of Milind Tendle
    Milind Tendle answers:

    it may further include cars such as maruti versa, mitsubishi lancer, hyundai elantra , tata sierra and tata mobile, opel corsa/sail,mahindra logan… most of the above cars died due to poor publicity or lack of effective advertisements….

  9. Profile photo of Vivek Kumar
    Vivek Kumar answers:

    Lancer was never a failure…. MILIND…. Failures were Opel, Kizahshi etc etc……

  10. Profile photo of Muzammil Husain Suri
    Muzammil Husain Suri answers:

    lancer was hit but HM cant provide better service.tata sierra was a good suv diesel

  11. Profile photo of Davinder Singh Randhawa
    Davinder Singh Randhawa answers:

    mahindra voyager was a great car, mahindra should re -introduce the car in indian market, it can be a success now

  12. Kalpesh Dhurandhar answers:

    i think sipani P1 and D1 were great with rover engines but never to be sold,because they had fibre bodies,but actually they were tough and safe as i had seen head on collision vehicles between a p1 and premier padmini where occupant of padmini was seriously injured whereas the p1 driver was without a scratch,also the p1 was up and ready the same day but padmini was to be dented painted for a week.

  13. Profile photo of Muzammil Husain Suri
    Muzammil Husain Suri answers:

    indian need of car is much different.economy and r prime concerns where these cars score less……..

  14. Profile photo of Divit Khullar
    Divit Khullar answers:

    Milind logan can also bee seen its not that flop

  15. Kalpesh Dhurandhar answers:

    hyundai tucson is also not to be seen vehicle.

  16. Roshun Povaiah answers:

    Right, Hyundai Tucson and Hyundai Terracan were another two vehicles ahead of their time.

  17. Profile photo of Sahil Paru
    Sahil Paru answers:

    wht abt maruti suzuki kizashi

  18. Profile photo of Parag Gupta
    Parag Gupta answers:

    i own a ford fusion petrol , think of it as a brilliant car, but was ahead of its time and expensive and flopped

  19. Kalpesh Dhurandhar answers:

    I think ford fusion looked good from outside,good decent looks quite roomy inside,i don’t know why they stopped producing it.

  20. Roshun Povaiah answers:

    Fusion was stopped because the sub-4 meter rule that allowed smaller cars great excise benefits. The Figo was coming in, and hence Ford didn’t want to continue with the Fusion. It sold relatively well for the 3 odd years it was in production.

  21. Profile photo of Jim Filler
    Jim Filler answers:

    very informative…kudos…..

  22. Profile photo of Srinivas RamaDasu
    Srinivas RamaDasu answers:

    @roshun Povaiah i believe the reason Terracan n Tucson din find many buyer is the fact that.. Hyundai is not a brand that exudes Class, n does not not really have the kind of brand value Honda or Skoda demands., Yu can now point to i20, verna,. n other sub 13L cars that have been a super success.. no doubt they r amazing cars.. Hyundai hav struggled to sell well for costlier car., eg, Santa Fe, Sonata, Embera. One more reason i can think of is the interiors hav nothing new to offer.. the Hyundai not experimenting with their Interiors with the regular beige n brown, though exteriors r going really good. Please correct me if i am wrong. :)

  23. Roshun Povaiah answers:

    True, when someone is paying Rs. 20 lakh, they are also looking for brand value. Hyundai is now slowly moving up the value chain.

  24. Profile photo of Kunal Sharma
    Kunal Sharma answers:

    Great article Sir, lot of fun and true facts. Chevrolet SRV is one of my favorite here, love that car. I am disappointed, couldn’t last long. Great research over the vehicles, amazing article.

  25. Profile photo of Shivraj Naik
    Shivraj Naik answers:

    What about Daewoo cielo??

  26. Profile photo of Davinder Singh Randhawa
    Davinder Singh Randhawa answers:

    cielo was selling in good numbers before daewoo shut down its plant

  27. Kalpesh Dhurandhar answers:

    one more infact two more ,chevrolet forester and mahindra verito since it changed the name from logan.not to be seen!!! not to be seen!!!!!!

  28. Roshun Povaiah answers:

    Verito is selling 1,400 cars a month on average. Not many seen as private cars, but check out the huge numbers being bought by Meru, Easycabs etc in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai… it’s selling.

  29. Profile photo of Davinder Singh Randhawa
    Davinder Singh Randhawa answers:

    another failure from maruti is grand [ bechara] oops VITARA

  30. Profile photo of Amrit Raj Manish
    Amrit Raj Manish answers:

    i guess the fiat petra also deserves to be in this list…correct me if i am wrong

  31. Ganesh Prasad answers:


  32. Ganesh Prasad answers:


  33. Poojan answers:

    a-star, kizashi, renault fluence

  34. Ganesh Prasad answers:


  35. Ramachandra Acharya answers:

    thanks roshun – very nicely compiled

  36. Profile photo of Madhupam Bansal
    Madhupam Bansal answers:

    Versa by Maruti was another big failure! Lack of a diesel unit killed the budget family mover..Not so attractive marketing either..

  37. Profile photo of emad
    emad answers:

    how much the opel Vectra right now in india???

  38. Profile photo of kkvinaykumar
    kkvinaykumar answers:

    Most the cars & car companies mentioned here I didn’t even knew they existed.

  39. Profile photo of kkvinaykumar
    kkvinaykumar answers:

    When I saw these two cars Peugeot 309, Opel Vectra I thought that the guys had imported these cars. I never knew that Peugeot was in India & I never knew that Opel had launched Vectra such an European styled car here, looks great.

  40. Profile photo of kkvinaykumar
    kkvinaykumar answers:

    Only cars which I saw regularly were Mahindra Voyager, Ford Mondeo, Chevrolet SRV & man I liked Chevrolet SRV so much it looked like an car that came directly out of NFS Most Wanted game.

  41. Profile photo of kkvinaykumar
    kkvinaykumar answers:

    List of phased out cars(cars that were either low in demand or too costly or looked dated): Hyundai Getz, Verna.
    Honda Civic.
    Ford Escort.
    Tata Indica Marina.
    Fiat Uno, Palio, Petra.

  42. Jayabharathwaj Venkataraman answers:

    Does anyone remember the Contessa?

  43. Profile photo of raj1388
    raj1388 answers:

    I own chevvy SRV. I think now it was the right time to bring SRV in the market. It is still the best car in its class.

  44. Roshun Povaiah answers:

    True. The SRV would probably fare better if it was introduced now. As for the Contessa – it wasn’t a flop as such, it sold decently in its time, although in a very small market. It got overtaken by more modern cars and the lack of HM’s marketing muscle.

  45. Profile photo of nandagopan
    nandagopan answers:

    few more cars which fall into this category.. Chevrolet Forester, Fiat Siena Weekend / Palio Adventure, Opel corsa Swing.

  46. Profile photo of Arjun Rajwade
    Arjun Rajwade answers:

    What about the Ford Escort, It was rarely seen on Indian roads…..

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  51. Profile photo of Meghan Ranade
    Meghan Ranade answers:

    Really a very well written article, I would also add the Zen Classic to this list…

  52. Profile photo of Jesleo Dany
    Jesleo Dany answers:

    the cars we think failure and not faild(because)
    cedia : sporty sedan , super drive
    sierra : still available by booking , and still it uses for modifications.
    fiat siena,petra,palio adventure are easy to maintain , their sedan/hatch still on road

  53. Profile photo of Jesleo Dany
    Jesleo Dany answers:

    the cars we think failure and not faild(because)
    cedia : sporty sedan , super drive
    sierra : still available by booking , and still it uses for modifications.
    fiat siena,petra,palio adventure are easy to maintain , their sedan/hatch still on road

  54. Profile photo of Shubham Bhatnagar
    Shubham Bhatnagar answers:

    Chevrolet forester was also a big flop from Chevrolet

  55. Profile photo of Siddhartha Mishra
    Siddhartha Mishra answers:

    The one really good car (but ahead of its time, I guess) was the Chevrolet (Subaru) Forrestor. Compact, Sporty, Powerful with ground clearance that would put many full-size SUVs to shame. Had GM priced it right (below 10 lakhs) it would have been the first successful compact SUV in India. And a diesel engine would have helped.

  56. Chinmay Kulkarni answers:

    Bring back the chevy srv

  57. Profile photo of Arun Anil
    Arun Anil answers:

    wht about honda crv ????

  58. Josh Devdoss answers:

    The Chevrolet Aveo and U-VA is also one of the fails.

  59. Profile photo of Yashwanth Reddy
    Yashwanth Reddy answers:

    what about tata indigo xl classic dicor..????

  60. A. Sam Daniel answers:

    I owned a Chevy UVA from 2008 -2012 and the car was very robust n well built.

  61. Profile photo of Eddy Jamerson
    Eddy Jamerson answers:

    Great Article!!!

  62. Profile photo of Rakesh Babu
    Rakesh Babu answers:

    i just love the cars like vectra .san storm,srv ,mondeo most of them where flops because they where a bit overpriced and less availability and high cost for parts.There where some suv flops like Chevrolet Forester,Hyundai Terraccan ,Suzuki Grand vitara.

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  65. Profile photo of Vivek Sinha
    Vivek Sinha answers:

    Honda Jazz N Brrio would also fit the list

  66. Profile photo of Nirav Gamit
    Nirav Gamit answers:

    Maruti suzuki stingray and hyundai getz also seen rare case….

  67. Profile photo of Nipun Mehta
    Nipun Mehta answers:

    Daewoo nexia was also one of flop cars.

  68. Profile photo of Chintan Gangadiya
    Chintan Gangadiya answers:

    cedia, outlander from mitsubishi as well premire rio & Vitara & kizashi by renowned Maruti as well indigo marina & ARIA from TATA need to be mentioned here…

  69. Profile photo of Ashish Mehta
    Ashish Mehta answers:

    The list is incomplete without not having afore mention cars Daewoo nexia, Scala ,vitara, xtrail, phaeton, Siena, weekend,370z,veyron,nano,Go,Aria,Teana,estilo,500, maybach…..right

  70. Profile photo of Manoj Kr. Rajkhowa
    Manoj Kr. Rajkhowa answers:

    Vectra….love the car….would buy one if GM plans to introduce in India

  71. Profile photo of Arjun Makana
    Arjun Makana answers:

    Chevy SRV is a nice car which can do wonders if GM can replace it with Sail UVA.

  72. Max Madrasi answers:

    Missing in this: DCM Daewoo Cielo, and Premier 118 NE (Fiat 124/Lada)

  73. Profile photo of Bala Hawk Guru
    Bala Hawk Guru answers:

    Flops Volkswagen’s toureg mahinra’s quanto Tata xenon mahindra Reva mahindra vibe-hatch of verito And Renault koleos

  74. Profile photo of Dipish Paul
    Dipish Paul answers:

    Chevy’s srv is an awesome piece . . Really hot ! Good aerodynamics ….
    I really enjoyed alot with this ride !
    But fuel effecieny was one big problem . . !

  75. Profile photo of blubird
    blubird answers:

    Ford Fusion – It was ahead of its time a 1st gen Ecosport!

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