The car that taught India to drive turns 25 | autos | Hindustan Times
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The car that taught India to drive turns 25

autos Updated: Dec 14, 2008 00:55 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times
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It all started on a December afternoon 25 years ago with Delhi’s Harpal Singh and a car.

Singh was the first proud owner of the original People’s Car, Maruti 800. Like his old warhorse (DIA 6479) that still trudges along Delhi’s roads, the company has also come a long way.

“In all these years it has never failed me,” said Singh. “This car has never been immobile while on the road.” His words are backed by over 2.74 million Maruti 800 owners.

No amount of persuasion will convince Singh to part with his vintage. “As long as I am alive this car will stay with me. After that I don’t care if it’s sold off to a scrap dealer,” he said.

The Maruti saga began in the winter of 1982 when the Government of India and Japan’s then little-known Suzuki Motor Corporation joined hands to provide “adequate transport mobility for the masses”. The venture clearly was a success.

“The company was formed out of an act of legislation and generally legislations achieve their target only partially, if at all. Maruti, however, is an example where we have more than achieved our objective,” said R.C. Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, who has been with the company since 1981 except for a short break in between.

From its inception, the company has been a market-leader to the extent that even now with over a dozen car makers in the fray, Maruti is a symbol of a compact car in the country.

With over 7 million cars on the roads, 5 lakh of them offshore, Maruti has a 54.7 per cent share in the passenger car market — more than double of its nearest rival.

So 25 years on, the rip-roaring Maruti road trip continues.