There are a bunch of cars that haven’t sold well after their introductions in India. The cut throat market forgets these cars in a jiffy. Here’s a jog back into time, to take a quick glance at the forgotten cars of India. This is our second edition, and in case you want to check the first one out, click here.
Maruti Baleno Altura
Indian car buyers hate stationwagons and yet automaker continue to persist with them. While the Baleno sedan wasn’t a big hit, it sold decently enough to have a good brand recall. Not so, the Altura, a stationwagon variant of the Baleno. The Altura sunk as soon as it was launched, and soon Maruti pulled it off the production line. Yes, even a Maruti badge on the bonnet can’t save a stationwagon in India.
Did you know that the Forester crossover that Chevrolet sold in India was actually a rebranded Subaru. Well. the Forester had a few unique aspects about it. Firstly, it was the first Subaru car sold in India, of course under a different brand. Secondly, it featured a 2.0 liter boxer petrol engine with 120 Bhp-178 Nm. Now, this side of the high end Porsches, the forester was the only affordable car that offered a Boxer engine to buyers here. All wheel drive was standard on this crossover, which offered 190 mm of ground clearance.
The Mondeo was one of the many sporty cars from Ford that didn’t do well in India. The D-Segment sedan had a cracker of a petrol engine (143 Bhp-190 Nm), a strong diesel engine (114 Bhp-280 Nm), and was known for its sweet handling. Well built and aggressively styled, the Mondeo didn’t find many takers due to exorbitant spare part prices and poor resale value. Spotting one in India is a very, very rare event considering how little this car sold.
[Image courtesy Overdrive]
Long before the Toyota Innova arrived into India and Indians warmed up to the word MPV, little known Kajah Motors from Kerala debuted the Kazwa. The Kazwa was an MPV modeled on the Renault Espace. Ready for sale in 1998, this MPV never made it to the market, despite clearing homologation. The Kazwa used a 2 liter turbo diesel engine (70 Bhp-160 Nm) sourced from Hindustan Motors. Spotting one is super rare as only 7 examples were built.
Skoda Octavia Combi
After introducing India’s first notchback car in the form of the Octavia, Skoda also brought in the stationwagon variant, calling it the Octavia Combi. India’s stationwagon curse continued, and the Combi bombed. The car was spacious enough to move homes though.
Hyundai has had limited success in the premium segments, and the Terracan SUV was one such vehicle that didn’t do well, mainly because of the perception surround the Hyundai badge. As the Hyundai brand was mainly associated with small cars, buyers were reluctant to buy premium cars with this badge. Not even the Terracan’s prodigious 343 Nm of torque could save it.
French automaker Peugeot tied up with Premier Motors Limited to form PAL-Peugeot. The joint venture folded up after PAL started having financial troubles, and Peugeot bolted from the Indian car market. When it was still around, it produced a solitary sedan called the 309, and sold it with petrol and diesel engines. The TUD5 diesel engine as particularly acclaimed for its longevity and fuel efficiency.
Hyundai has sold multiple generations of the Sonata in India. The first one was a Jaguar lookalike and it couldn’t make any dent into the Honda Accord market. The second one, dubbed the Embera, even had a powerful diesel engine, but never took off. Hyundai went back to a petrol-only approach with the 3rd generation Sonata, only to fail once again. Despite 3 generations of the car sold here, spotting one is a rare event indeed.
The Tata Estate was one of the first indications that stationwagons don’t work in India. Both Premier and Hindustan Motors had tried the approach with the Padmini and the Ambassador, only to fail. Tata Motors introduced the Estate in the 1990s and the car quickly bombed.
Reva-i was the first commercially produced and exported electric car in India, and was manufactured by Maini Electric, a company that now belongs to the Mahindra group. Chetan Maini designed and built the Reva-i, a little electric runabout that had more success abroad than in India. The car’s oddball looks means that it did attract eyes but the lack of practicality meant that nobody bought it.