Snapshot – Change is eternal, and the automobile is a machine whose evolution nevers stops. Change comes rather soon in the automotive lexicon, and yet India is a country where a three decade old vehicle outsells many newer offerings. Case in point is the Maruti Omni, a passenger van that consistently does 6,000 monthly units. However, the Omni is more of an exception rather than the rule, which brings us to the topic at hand – 5 cars that are fast disappearing from Indian roads.
Early last year, the last Maruti 800 hatchback rolled off the production line from Maruti Suzuki’s Gurgaon factory, which happened to be the same manufacturing facility from where the country’s first 800 rolled out more than three decades earlier, in 1983. Officially out of production, the car that put India on wheels and brought in attributes such as affordability, Japanese reliability and outstanding fuel efficiency to the table, is now a dwindling species. While a sizeable number of 800s still serve their owners faithfully, the NGT ruling that seeks to put 15 year old vehicles off Delhi roads and that has just been upheld by the Supreme Court of India, has put many thousand 800 cars off Indian roads. In the next few years, the 800 is set to attain classic car status, and become a rarity on roads here.
In 2014, Hindustan Motors’ car division at Uttarpara went belly up and took the stately Ambassador with it. With production ceasing at the only facility from where the car rolled out for over 5 decades, the Ambassador’s status as a ‘Relic from the Raj’ just got underscored. With production no longer on, the last bastion of this stately car – Kolkata’s taxi market – is adapting to the winds of change by opting for more modern options such as the Tata Indigo eCS and the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. Finding a pristinely maintained Ambassador owned by a private car owner is quite rare in this day and age, suggesting that the car is well and truly on its way to near extinction.
Hyundai Santro Xing
The Santro Xing made the South Korean car brand Hyundai a household name in India, and was also instrumental in getting its maker propelled to the second largest automaker position here. However, Hyundai finally pulled the plug off the Santro Xing last year, fast tracking the car’s ride into the sunset. The i10 replaces the Santro as Hyundai’s latest affordable hatchback by means of a repositioning. The lack of new car sales and the myriad of options in front of the Indian car buyer means that the Santro Xing is a fast disappearing automobile. In half a decade’s time, the Santro Xing is likely to become a rarity on roads here.
During its time in India, the Honda Civic was the sportiest D-Segment offering, tugging at the heart and purse strings of enthusiasts. Citing poor sales, Honda discontinued the Civic in 2013. While the low slung sedan continues to be available in the pre-owned car market of the country, sales aren’t strong given buyers’ preference for diesel D-Segment sedans. With fewer Civics being bought and sold in the pre-owned car market, the car is already on its way out from Indian roads. All said, the Civic will continue to remain an icon with a bunch of enthusiasts continuing to lovingly tend to their rides given the accessible spare parts situation from markets abroad.
Mitsubishi Pajero SFX
Another icon that has ridden into the sunset as far as the Indian car market is concerned is the Mitsubishi Pajero SFX SUV. Known for its reliability and feeling of indestructibility, this SUV is a legend in off roading circles. The Pajero SFX was assembled at the Hindustan Motors-Mitsubishi factory at Tiruvallur, off Chennai, through the CKD kit route. Though the SUV commands decent resale value in the pre-owned car market, SUV buyers opting for it are few and far in between as many remain apprehensive about whether Mitsubishi would support this vehicle with spares and service. The SUV is now getting rarer and rarer on Indian roads.