Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Ambassador and Kerala

Go to any taxi stand in Kerala and you will see rows and rows of Ambassadors lined up there. Not Sumos - which are big as BPO cabs, not Qualis - which even after production has stopped commands a good price in the used cab market, not Bolero or even the Maruti van. Even today, in circa 2007, when the Ambassador has all but died a death on most of Indias roads, they are still conspicuous by their presence. The two taxi drivers I met had bought brand new Ambassadors in 2006. Yuck, you would think. I asked them what made them buy this behemoth. I personally, am not a fan of this vehicle, hence I was intrigued...

First, the total cost of ownership is just about 3.7 odd lakhs. Now that is cheaper than most other compact cars too. There is no power steering, but an AC is available - smart. The passengers get their comfort, the driver can get by without power steering. The first seat is a bench - unlike any other car - though the Sumo and others have basically bench seats in their cab versions - but the sideways facing back seat makes it a difficult bet (this is my thought) for the Sumos. Also, cabs are meant to be "cars" and maxicabs are "jeeps" which might be another reason for the Ambassadors survival.

The handbrake is on the right side of the driver, so 2+1 seating is comfortable in the front. The back seat, in any case has been the one strength of the vehicle in terms of space as has the boot. Apparently, the vehicle, also has what these chaps classify as "pull" - torque. The Ambassador delivers the best torque for the cost - the Qualis is of course the best. Repairability, also, is a point since with bad roads, rains, mountain roads and lack of too many dealers, the roadside mechanic does a good job with the vehicle. All in all, low total cost of ownership is what matters to these guys.

Who can challenge it? The Logan or the Indigo perhaps have a good chance...

1 comment:

Abhiroop said...

the Amby. man. nice attempt at dissecting what keeps this dinosaur from being yanked off the streets. totally love it. the stately, unintersted 'stare' of the headlights, the height of the seats...the aerodynamics of a brick...its like riding an elephant. seriously thinking of making this my first car!