India’s FORGOTTEN ‘People’s Cars’

India is one of the biggest automobile markets in the world and it has grown massively in the past few years. In the process, there were many cars that were launched to become successful and change the whole market scenario in the country. India has always been a budget-conscious market where the success of the car models has dependent on its price. Well, there was many made-in-India people’s car that was launched in the market to become a massive success but failed terribly. And they’re now totally forgotten.


It is touted as first Indian car ever made and was built by Late Mr K A Menon in 1956. The vehicle was ready for production within 10 years of independence, however, the car never made to the production. The Aravind car was expected to get a price tag of Rs 5,000 but the vehicle never received government approval. The luxury sedan-type vehicle made by him was powered by Triumph motorcycle engines. The entire body was made from 22 gauge sheet. All the materials were sourced from local dealers. The car was built to change the history of Indian automobiles but in 1971, Maruti Suzuki made an official entry to the Indian market, which killed cars that could’ve become very successful, including this one.

Meera Mini

Meera 3

Tata Nano is currently known as the first microcar in India that was aimed at small families with limited budget. Well, in 1945, the idea was conceptualised by Shankarrao Kulkarni. The first prototype of the vehicle was ready in 1949 and it was the first two-seater car made in India. It came powered by an air-cooled engine and all-rubber suspension that was used to save the cost of the spare parts used in the conventional suspension system. The puny car came powered by a 19 Bhp engine in 1951 that could do 90 km/h and returned a maximum of 21 km/l. Mr Kulkarni kept on improving the model and in 1970, a new prototype with a V-twin engine producing 14 Bhp power was launched. It was planned to be sold for Rs 12,000. However, Maruti Suzuki launched the 800, which completely changed the Indian automobile scenario.


It became the first electric car that became popular in India. Launched in 2000, the Reva-i was a two-seater all-electric car. Launched by Chetan Maini, the Reva brand was bought by the Mahindra Group. The Reva-i was aimed at the commuters who did not travel much and was purely a city car. However, electric cars were not yet popular in those days around the world and the fuel was also much cheaper, which is why no one paid much attention to it. The Reva received a few updates over the years and was finally discontinued to be replaced by Mahindra E2O.

Sipani Badal

Sipani Badal was the rebadged version of the Reliant Robin three-wheel car. While the Reliant Robin became quite popular of its size in the British market, it was a massive failure in India. Renamed as Sipani Badal for the Indian market, the Badal came powered by a 198cc, two-stroke engine that powered the rear wheels. The fibreglass body of the vehicle and the three-wheels did not appeal the Indian buyers in the 1970s.

Sipani Dolphin

sipani dolphin photo

The Dolphin was another rebadged vehicle from the Indian brand that was launched to take on the Maruti Suzuki 800. It came with a four-cylinder engine that was superior to Maruti 800’s three-cylinder petrol engine. The Sipani was also lighter in weight with a body made out of the fibreglass. However, the car was not as reliable. After the failure of its products, Sipani closed its shop in India in the early 1990s.