India's iconic 'Amby' car no longer a motorist's favourite

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London, May 11 (ANI): India's famed snub-nosed Ambassador appears to finally be on its way out after manufacturers Hindustan Motors reported further losses.

Fiscal losses for 2009-10 were pegged at 429 million rupees from 378 million rupees the previous year.

India's oldest automaker said its net worth had tumbled by over 50 per cent and it must now report to the state-run Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction for possible revival.

The company, however, remains upbeat. The Ambassador has been chosen as the official car to ferry athletes around at the Commonwealth Games in October.

But analysts are doubtful about longer-term prospects for the company, whose shares have nose-dived.

It "could hang on tenaciously to some small corner of the market, but it's no longer the purchase of choice," The Telegraph quoted Murad Ali Baig, one of India's leading independent automobile analysts.

Hindustan Motors has never returned to its glory days in the 1970s when "the Amby," as it was affectionately known, held a market stranglehold of around 70 per cent.

Sleek new cars that made its plump contours look dowdy when India began opening its markets to the world have muscled it out.

The Ambassador's bulky design, based on the 1950s British-built Morris Oxford, has changed little since it first rolled off the assembly line in 1957, although the engine is now more powerful.

For years the Ambassador was the only car driven by senior government officials and people always knew when a "power do" was on in the national capital because of the fleet of Ambassadors outside.

But now many bureaucrats have abandoned the 9,460 dollar Ambassador in favour of sportier sedans or SUVs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is ferried around in an armoured black BMW.

Even taxi drivers-who were among the Ambassador's most loyal buyers-are opting for more fuel-efficient compacts. (ANI)

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