Snapshot – More often than not, concept cars are glimpses of the future. While many concept cars make the leap from an idea to the production floor, many concept cars remain mere concepts, leaving automobile enthusiasts reminiscing about what an idea could have been. Today, we have seven such concept cars that will remain just that, concepts. Of these cars, more half of them have even been extensively tested on Indian roads, only to be shelved indefinitely as their makers had other designs in mind.
Hindustan Ambassador Veer
Once an enduring symbol of the Indian automotive industry, Hindustan Motors is in shambles, what with the Uttarpara factory in Hooghly, off Kolkata, grinding to a halt. While the Ambassador sedan has been given a quick demise, what with the automaker stopping production, a pick up truck concept based on the erstwhile sedan has also gone with the wind, so to speak. The Hindustan Ambassador Veer was a mini pick up truck that was to compete with mini trucks such as the Tata Ace and the Mahindra Maxximo. This model was even caught testing on Indian roads. However, Hindustan Motors’ demise has ensured that the Veer remains a design that never took off.
Hindustan Ambassador Compact Sedan
In a desperate bid to refashion the Ambassador and to capitalize on the big demand for compact sedans in India, Hindustan Motors embarked on the sub-4 meter Ambassador project. This car even reached the portals of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) for the mandatory homologation process. However, the Ambassador based compact sedan never reached the assembly line what with its maker going belly up. From another perspective, the Ambassador compact sedan not hitting production could be a good thing for it was more of a mish mash of a good design gone bad.
Tata Nano Diesel
Tata Motors tested and tested the Nano Diesel. Test mules of the car would tirelessly traverse the NH4 highway between Mumbai and Bangalore. Why, many Nano Diesel hatchbacks were spotted as far as Belgaum and Bangalore. However, the changing equation between petrol and diesel prices after diesel price deregulation meant that the Nano Diesel had lost a part of its charm even before launch. The other half that is said to be reason behind Tata Motors shelving the Nano Diesel was the high NVH levels of the twin cylinder turbo diesel motor. Any which ways, the Nano Diesel will go into the history books as a diminutive car that never managed to live up to its promise of delivering 40 Kmpl.
Tata Manza Hybrid
Tata Motors showcased the Manza Hybrid at the 2012 Indian Auto Expo and ever since, the car has been put in cold storage. Fast forward to 2014, the interweb is agog with rumours of Tata Motors planning to discontinue the Manza sedan itself. The automaker will use aggregates of the concept though. For example, the 1.1 liter-3 cylinder turbo diesel engine of the Manza Hybrid could be used on the likes of the Kite hatchback and compact sedan models. Styling elements first seen on the Manza Hybrid could eventually find use in future Tata cars. As for the Manza Hybrid itself, the concept car was ahead of its time.
Tata Indica XL
Tata Motors stretched an Indica hatchback and began testing this car in an around Pune, prompting speculation on a ultra spacious variant of the Indica being readied up for a launch in India. With the Indica itself consigned to retirement next year, the Indica XL concept has all the trappings of a false positive. Currently, Tata Motors has stopped testing the Indica XL and a couple of examples can still be seen at Tata Motors’ Engineering Research Center at Pimpri, off Pune, waiting for their turns at the scrap yard.
Chevrolet Spark Electric
The Chevrolet Spark Electric was first shown at the 2010 Indian Auto Expo, a time when electric cars were just about going mainstream globally. Right from the outset. General Motors India maintained that the Spark Electric would be an expensive proposition. However, some sources within the company did explore the path of introducing this car in India, only to shelve it indefinitely considering the poor demand for electric cars here. For instance, the former MD of GM India, the late Karl Slym, wanted to see the Spark Electric in production and was bullish about producing the car in India with duty benefits doled out by the government. However, the project never took off.
Chevrolet Beat Electric
A year after General Motors showcased the Spark Electric, the electric variant of the Beat hatchback was displayed in India. Like the Spark Electric, the Beat Electric never translated into a production version. The car however, is sold in the United States with some success at that. The Beat getting an electric variant in India is not likely given the fact that the car is looking at a generation change in a couple of years. General Motors for its part, prefers to concentrate on the bread and butter segments of the Indian car market, of which the electric vehicle segment is clearly not a part.