Infinite Scrolling

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Cars in India: Then and now

"My friend works for an Indian car manufacturer and is very happy as they are very good employers". I was very pleasantly surprised when the person who had come to check us in to our room in Italy said this.

You see I grew up at at time in India when there were no Indian designed cars on Indian roads.

We had an option of buying a Hindustan Ambassador, a Fiat or a Standard Herald. Each manufacturer made only one model. So we grew up thinking that was how cars were made; one company one car model!

Even so it was difficult for a middle class family to afford a car. Most people used a two wheeler or a bicycle. Cars had to be booked and waited for till your turn came.

My father bought a Fiat in 1972. It was an amazing experience. The smell and comfort of a new car. It soon became the car for the extended family.

The roads in Delhi those days were not very crowded. There were no fly overs, except for over railway lines. It was easy to get around.

But the point is that all these cars were not of Indian design. They were designs by foreign companies and were being made under license in India.

Today if you drive around Delhi you will come across many Indian designed cars. Indian designed and manufactured cars are now competing with the best of foreign brands.

The irony is that for many years when car companies in India had a captive market, as the policy was to provide them a protected marketplace, but they did not design and manufacture home grown cars.

And now with a open market with the best of brands from the world we have Indian manufactures designing world class cars.

Competition is spurring high quality home grown engineering.

And Indian companies are moving to other parts of the world.

It is nice as then as a tourist you get to hear nice things about our companies and engineers when you travel abroad.

We have come a long way it seems.