Hindustan Motors, best known for its Ambassador taxis based on the 1950s Morris Oxford, is planning to to launch a 'premium' passenger car and a 'multi-utility vehicle' by 2002 in an attempt to return to profit.

Competitors offering newer designs such as Maruti Suzuki and Daewoo India have severely eroded Hindustan's share of the Indian car market in recent years.

Automotive Asia Online reports that the likely candidates to spearhead the revival of one of India's oldest car makers are the Mitsubishi Galant sedan and Pajero (Shogun) 4x4, which would augment the existing Mitsubishi Lancer (assembled under licence from CKD kits) and the venerable Ambassador.

"We have already shortlisted the Galant as one of the probable models for India," Hindustan Motors president BK Chatuverdi told reporters this week. "We will take on the Honda Accord segment with the car, which will be ready for launch by 2002."

The Pajero is also set to make its debut in India, Chatuverdi said. "We are in the process of identifying the price bracket in which the Pajero should be positioned." he said, according to Automotive Asia Online.

Like the Galant, the Pajero is expected to arrive in India in 2002. "Galant will be initially introduced in India with a high import content but we intend to gradually start producing the car locally at our Chennai plant." Chaturvedi said.

HM is also preparing to revamp the Ambassador and the 1970s Vauxhall Victor-based Contessa, both positively antiquated in terms of design and technology although still popular with some local buyers, especially taxi operators.

Power steering should finally be available as an option on the Ambassador early next year.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more