India is celebrating the completion of 71 years of Independence today and the nation will look to the idiot box to hear the PM’s address from the Red Fort in Delhi. So this Independence Day, we take a look back at 10 made-in-India cars and bikes that we as a nation should be proud of.
We kick off this list with a car that shocked the world, when it was launched in 2008, thanks to its absurdly low launch price of Rs. 1 lakh, which was the equivalent of $2,500 at that time. The brainchild of Ratan Tata, the Nano, was designed and developed in-house by Tata Motors as an alternative for bikers.
However, the Nano did not do as well as Tata Motors expected it do, in the market, though that could be blamed on the carmaker’s promotion campaign pushing its cheap price tag, which drove many prospective buyers away.
However, the Nano is still a car that we can be extremely proud of as Indians as it showed that a new car could be built at an extremely low price point, something that many in the West had thought to be an impossible dream.
The Bajaj Pulsar is what made sporty motorcycles popular among India’s youth. With its aggressive pricing, ever-evolving design and models and multiple engine options at different price points, it appeals to almost every Indian that sees one these bikes on the road.
The Pulsar’s affordability when it first arrived saw droves of motorcycle buyers skip the boring commuter bikes of the day to ride what was then the most powerful Indian motorcycle short of Royal Enfield. The Pulsar bought performance to the masses and without its presence, we may never have seen the abundance of small, sporty and affordable motorcycles, we see in the Indian market today.
The Tata Indica was first launched in the year 1998 and marked the first time that Tata Motors entered the passenger car segment. The Indica was the first-ever indigenously developed and designed passenger car sold in India. Thanks to its aggressive pricing and the fact that it was a lot larger in terms of space on offer on the inside than its closest rival at the time, the Zen, it forced Maruti to lower the price of its hatchback, something unheard of at that time.
Mahindra launched the Scorpio in 2002 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The Scorpio was the first in-house vehicle developed by Mahindra with inputs from AVL Austria and Japanese consultants. However, what makes the Scorpio something that we can proud of is the fact that only 23 engineers worked on its development.
Before the arrival of the Safari, India’s only SUV options were the Maruti Gypsy, the Tata Safari and Sumo and Mahindra’s own Bolero and old-school Jeeps that were rather basic and, to be honest, rickety and boring. With its butch looks, comfortable and feature-rich (for 2002) interiors, and an ad campaign that showcased it as the car that you would want to drive instead of luxury sedans, the Scorpio made SUVs mainstream. It started a craze that sees SUVs of many sizes hit the roads of the nation every day.
The DC Avanti is the brainchild of car designer Dilip Chabbaria, who is best known for his extreme custom versions of vehicles already on sale in India. The Avanti is India’s first-ever homegrown sports car and is offered as an affordable sports car for the masses. The Avanti uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 248 bhp and 350 Nm of torque.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
The Royal Enfield Himalayan saw the Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer head out into a brave new direction in 2016. The Himalayan is the first-ever dual-purpose motorcycle developed by an Indian bike maker. The Himalayan uses a 411-cc engine cranking out 24.5 bhp and 32 Nm of torque and also features a semi-digital instrument cluster and some quirky features like a compass, ambient temperature gauge and LED parking lights.
With its dual-purpose nature and a price international brands wouldn’t dare go near, the Himalayan is the adventure motorcycle for the common man. Along with this, the fact that the Himalayan has generated quite a lot of interest in international markets as well, makes it a bike India can be proud of.
The Bajaj RE60 was first revealed at the 2012 Auto Expo in Delhi and was introduced two years later in a production guise. Now called the Qute, the Bajaj quadricycle is available in some Indian states and with its small and extremely efficient 216-cc engine (good for 20 bhp), it emits only 60 grams/km of CO2, making it among the least-polluting vehicles on sale in India today. The Qute also offers a safer alternative to autos and is even exported to a few countries, which is something we should take pride in.
The Reva (Revolutionary Electric Vehicle Alternative) i was developed by Bangalore-based electric carmaker Reva Electric car company and went on sale in India in 2001, and in international markets like the UK, two years later. While its sales numbers were quite low internationally, it was a low-cost electric alternative to regular cars thanks to the low cost of keeping it running, and government subsidies. While it may not have done quite well internationally, the REVA i generated enough interest in India for it to be acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra in 2010.
The T6X is the first electric motorcycle to be developed and put into production by an Indian company and is the work of Pune-based startup Tork. The T6X offers a range of 100 kilometres on a single charge and has a top speed of 70km/h. The Torq T6X is also offered with fast charging for its battery pack, which can charge up to 80% in just 40 minutes. The Tork T6X can also connect with the cloud, which should help owners and the.company monitor the components used on the bike.
Sticking to electric propulsion for our final vehicle, the 340 is the work of Bangalore-based Aether Energy, which was founded three years ago in 2015. The Aether S340 is a scooter that looks to be from the future and features a customisable touch screen instrument cluster. The scooter is also offered in a more powerful 450 guise, which has a range of 70 km and a top speed of 80km/h. Aether Energy has already setup 30 charging stations across Bangalore to help charge the e-scooter.