The cars that are currently sold in the Indian market are categorised into several segments. There are segments like hatchback, SUVs, sedans and even these segments have sub-categories under them. Tata Nano which was once sold in the Indian market was a microcar. Sadly due to poor marketing and low sales, Tata had to discontinue it. Microcar concept is not something that started recently. Even before Tata Nano, we had Reva electric car and there were a bunch of manufacturers who used to offer such microcars. Here we have a lost of 7 such exceptionally rare microcars that were once available in India.
Bajaj currently has Qute quadricycle in the market. It is being used as taxi in many Indian cities. This is not the first time, Bajaj has attempted something like this. Way back, Bajaj tries to enter the “micro car” segment with PTV. PTV stands for Private Transport Vehicle. Bajaj made this car first in 1980s. During this time, they were trying to make a car out of autorickshaws. PTVs were based on the same frame as an autorickshaw. It was cut down to feature a rack and pinion steering wheel. The regular handlebars of the autorickshaws were replaced. It was powered by a 145cc single-cylinder engine and came with a metallic body. Bajaj made a total of 10 prototypes but they never entered production.
Sipani Badal is basically a Reliant Robin. Many of you might remember it from the popular British motor show Top Gear and also Mr. Bean television series. The Sipani Badal used 198-cc, two-stroke petrol engine and the power was sent to the rear wheels. It was an extremely odd-looking vehicle. It had fibreglass body and would easily tip over due to its three-wheeled design.
Germany’s Fuldamobil was the answer to Reliant Robin and this also came to India. This was also a three-wheeler car but the position of the wheels were different. It had two wheels at the front and one at the rear. It was powered by a 500-cc Villiers engine which was quite powerful for its time.
This was another German microcar that was expected to be sold in Indian market. Few units did come to India however, they could never make this car here in India successfully. It was powered by a 250-cc, single-cylinder engine that can take the car till 100 kmph mark.
Even before Tata Nano was conceptualised, Mr Shankarrao Kulkarni conceptualised the first microcar in 1945. The first prototype of Meera Mini was ready by 1949 and was the first two-seater car made in India. In order to keep the cost of the car low, the car came with an all-rubber suspension and air-cooled engine. There were several versions of the car made by Mr. Kulkarni. The last known version of the car had a V-twin engine producing 14 Bhp and it was sold for around Rs 12,000.
Trishul diesel tourer
This mini Jeep was manufactured by Trishul Crafts Auto Ltd in Patna, Bihar. The model was called Trishul Diesel tourer and it came with a soft top, four seats, and Trishul ornament on the bonnet. This microcar was powered by a single-cylinder Greaves-Lombardini diesel engine. It also had a Jeep-like with a foldable front windshield.
Kerala-based Rajah Group which has experience in making and selling beedis even had an automobile division. They once made an extremely spacious MPV called Kajah Kazwa. In 2012, at the Auto Expo, Rajah group unveiled a two-seater microcar that was called Rajah Creeper. It was a boxy looking car and was powered by an 800-cc engine.