The beginning of the end of the road for the Ambassador

Ambassador taxis in Kolkata, India

Early morning wash and check for Ambassador taxis near Kolkata’s New Market (December 2012)

It’s difficult to know how long the decision by Hindustan Motors to close indefinitely the factory where Ambassadors were made will take to bite.

Certainly the iconic cars will hardly disappear overnight from the streets of Kolkata, where they make up most of the city’s taxi cabs, but the decision does mark the beginning of their end.

They’re sure to be seen on the streets for a good few years yet, but I’ll miss them when the existing fleet does eventually wear itself out as they’re such a strong symbol of Kolkata, reminding you of the city every time you rattle and bounce around in one of them.

Nevertheless, the writing had been on the wall for some time. Annual sales had, by March 2014, fallen to roughly 10% of the total sold in the last late 1990s, finally undermining the manufacturer’s age old advertising slogan: “Ambassador. It’s always there.”

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