Hindustan Motors is not the name of an international lawn mower manufacturer but that of probably the most prominent Indian car maker. Part of the Birla Group, Hindustan cars have been around for over 60 years, being some of the most popular Indian automobiles. The company's early activity and ulterior development is strongly connected to British colonialism. Shortly after its inception in 1942, Hindustan started working on their first model, the Landmaster with technology borrowed from British manufacturer Morris.
The vehicle, basically an Indian version of the Oxford Morris, was quickly followed by takes on other models such as the Morris Minor. Re-named as the “Baby Hindustan”, the car was quick to aid the company in gaining popularity. By the time the 50's came, the company had risen in popularity and vehicle demands enough to outgrow its facility in Port Okha near Gujarat to move production to a bigger plant in Uttarpara, West Bengal.
1957 saw the introduction of the iconic Ambassador, a car that would be featured in countless movies and become Hindustan's longest-lived vehicle. Paradoxically, the car would not only become a living symbol of Hindustan's road dominion but also a choice for the wealthy and average as well. The choice of car for Indian state leaders and taxi drivers the Ambassador has gained a popularity impossible to equal by any later released models. In fact, the car is still being nostalgically sold in the UK for reasons that are surely not performance-related.
The Ambassador's 30 year rule was ended in 1980 by the release of the Contessa, a rebadged version of the 1972 Vauxhall Victor FE. Hindustan's reign was ended by the founding of Maruti Udyog ( UL) and is currently trying to enter European markets through models such as the redesigned Ambassador who bares striking resemblances to Mini vehicles.
Despite having successfully taken on the Indian auto market, the company couldn't have survived without extending its activity in other areas. Such was the case that Hindustan did so, almost from its inception, having established specialized truck assembly lines in 1948, when production was moved to Uttarpara.
Between the mid 80's and mid 90's, Hindustan has also set a Power Products Division at Hosur, Karnataka to manufacture parts for heavy duty earth moving equipment as well as a gasoline engine and transmission facility at Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh. The latter was erected as a part of a joint venture with Isuzu.
In recent years, Hindustan has made several deals such as selling its Earth moving equipment facility to GM and establishing a new components business that was transfered to AVTEC, a large entity partly held by the Birla Group. The company is currently is no longer a key player in India is sustained thanks to its joint ventures and extensions in numerous other market segments.