Snapshot – In India, homegrown car makers who are successful are few and far in between. Apart from Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra, there’s no real biggie in the car space. But it’s not like Indian automakers haven’t tried in the past. In fact, India has a slew of car makers doing trying exciting things in the past, only to do bust when their ideas didn’t work. Let’s take a walk back into history and look at five automakers who fell by the wayside after promising initial starts.
Sunrise Auto Industries
Sunrise Auto Industries of Bangalore, became Sipani Limited, sometime in the 1980s. The company started off in 1973 and folded up sometime in the mid 1990s. In between these three decades, Sipani produced unique cars. From the three wheeled Badal, which was a Reliant Robin renamed for India, to the Montana, the automaker bet on fiber glass bodied cars.
These cars never took off though even as the 1980s were dominated by the Maruti 800, which was backed by Suzuki’s formidable engineering expertise. Sipani did try their best though, with the three door Dolphin and the five door Montana. They even put in a diesel engine in the Montana to boost sales. It didn’t work though. The last ditch attempt from the automaker came with the Rover Montego, which sank without a trace too.
San Motors Ltd
San Motors Limited introduced India’s first convertible, the Storm. The Storm was India’s Mazda Miata, if you will. However, the car never took off and San Motors Limited collapsed with it. The San Storm was designed by the LeMans group and it did look quite cheery in yellow. The compact cabriolet used a 1.2 liter Renault petrol motor that put out 60 Bhp, which was enough for decent performance considering the car’s 760 kilogram kerb weight.
Fiberglass bodied cars have never done well in India, and the Storm was an example that used this route to failure. The car never caught on with the buying populace although it did manage to turn plenty of heads when it was on the streets. Poor engineering is said to be a major reason for the car’s failure in India, a market that simply does not trust cars from boutique automakers.
Standard Motor Products of India
Standard Motors Products of India, an automaker based out of Madras, dabbled with car assembly, and was an alternate to the likes of Hindustan Motors and Premier Automobiles Limited. The South Indian car building operation essentially assembled and sold cars from Standard-Triumph, a UK based auto maker. Both commercial vehicles and cars were built, but none of them really succeeded.
Established in 1949, Standard Motor Products of India lived on until 2006, before it was shut down for good. The Standard Eight/Ten, Herald, Gazel and 2000 were the prominent cars sold by the automaker in India. The Standard 2000 brought in a modicum of luxury and took on the Hindustan Contessa briefly before poor quality levels ran it aground.
Trishul Motor Crafts
Trishul Motor Crafts is one of the more obscure automakers. Beginnning life in Patna, Bihar, Trishul Motor Crafts began by putting together a four wheeled, Jeep-like vehicle that was capable of transporting four adults. A 500cc, single cylinder Lombardini diesel motor powered the Trishul. The vehicle was slightly more popular in East India than the rest of the country. Little is known about the company, except that it now doesn’t exist in its original form as the maker of the Trishul.
The Aravind Car
A modest workshop of Kerala is an automaker that made it to the Illustrated Weekly of India for the Aravind car. But that’s pretty much where the automaker achieved. The company began putting together a car called the Aravind by using a 11 Bhp engine from the salvage yard. The Aravind used components that were readily available in the spare parts market. Essentially, the car was a home brew with an amalgam of parts, which made it unviable for production. Needless to say, only one unit of the Aravind was built.