India's trademark, the Ambassador car, has not changed much since it first rolled off a production line in 1958

End of the Ambassador � India's iconic car

Indian car-maker Hindustan Motors has announced that it will cease production of Ambassador, India’s trademark vehicle which has barely changed since its introduction in 1958.

Hindustan Motos said weak demand and financial difficulties had been the main reason behind the decision.

The Ambassador, though now considered completely Indian, was modelled on the Morris Oxford III manufactured by Morris Motors, an Oxford-based company, between 1956 and 1959.

The first car ever manufactured in India, the Ambassador has frequently been used by the country’s prominent politicians, serving as a status symbol. In the 1980s, it started losing its dominance when Maruti Suzuki introduced its low-priced 800 hatchback.

The brand's decline continued throughout the 1990s when global automakers starting setting up dealerships in India, offering more advanced design and technology.

The Ambassador has remained the choice of a dwindling share of bureaucrats and politicians, usually in white with a red beacon on top and a chauffeur at the wheel. It is also still in use as a taxi in some Indian cities.

In a statement, Hindustan Motors cited "worsening conditions at its Uttarpara plant which include very low productivity, growing indiscipline, critical shortage of funds, lack of demand for its core product the Ambassador and large accumulation of liabilities."

The company sold about 2,200 Ambassadors in the fiscal year ended in March 2014, a tiny share of the 1.8 million passenger cars sold during the year in India, according to industry data.

A new Ambassador in Kolkata starts at 515,000 rupees (£5,215), according to a dealer in the city.

"The suspension of work will enable the company in restricting mounting liabilities and restructure its organisation and finances and bring in a situation conducive to reopening of the plant," the company said in its statement.

The plant, with nearly 2,500 staff, also produced the Winner light commercial vehicle as well as components.

However, analysts are rather sceptical about the chances of the Ambassador making a commercial come back.

"In the present shape I don't think the Ambassador has got any chances of revival," said Deepesh Rathore at research firm Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors. "It doesn't make any business sense," he said.

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