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RSM 28th January 2010 11:36 PM

Indian Auto Industry - History & Timeline
9 Attachment(s)
I don't find in a single place any good details of Indian Automotive History.
Let us put some effort to dig-out the details, lots of pictures and data and share. Process - I will put a timeline and we should all find and put the details for that period.

Inception - 1940s to 1960s

This graph shows how much we grew from start.

Attachment 1906

In 1940s the Indian automotive industry was at a very nascent stage. An embryonic automotive industry emerges in India.

In the initial years after independence Indian automobile industry was plagued by unfavorable government policies. All it had to offer in the passenger car segment was a 1940s Morris model called the Ambassador.

In 1953, government of India and private sector came together to build an automotive component manufacturing industry to meet the rising needs of the automobile industry. Nonetheless the growth was not on the expected lines, rather relatively slow in the 1950s and 1960s due to the prevalence of nationalization and license raj.

It was in 1897 that a resident of Calcutta brought the first car to India. The next year, there were four cars in Bombay, one of them owned by Jamshedji Tata and the other three also by Parsis. That same year, the first pneumatic tyres arrived in Bombay, with Dunlop opening an office in the city.

Madras, it would appear, lagged behind, though it is related that a car was seen on Mount Road on a brief outing in 1894. If that unconfirmed appearance is ignored, the first recorded date of a car being in regular use in Madras is 1901. The car was owned by A J Yorke, a director of Parry & Co. He drove it daily from Ben’s Gardens, Adyar, to Parry’s in ‘Black Town’. The South’s first registered car, MC-1, belonged to Francis Spring, at that time Secretary of the Madras Railway Board and, in 1904, to become the Chairman of the Madras Port Trust and ‘father’ of the Madras Harbour.
The first Indian-owned car in Madras, MC-3, was building contractor T Namberumal Chetty’s.

In 1903, Samuel John Green of Simpson & Co, Madras, built India’s first steam car and caused a sensation on the roads of the city. The Madras Mail hailed its appearance as the beginning of “a new industry for Madras.” Two years later, Simpson’s built the first steam bus. It ran between Bezwada (Vijayawada) and Masulipatam (Machilipatnam) in what was possibly the first motor bus service in the country.

When TVS commenced operations in 1912, motor transport received a fillip in South India. The firm was founded by T V Sundram Iyengar to operate a bus service. T V Sundram Iyengar and Sons Ltd (now Sundaram Motors) became a vehicle dealer in 1922 after the lifting of Government restrictions on imported vehicles of all types had been put in place during the Great War (1914-18). By 1920, the number of imported vehicles of all types had grown to nearly 13,500 and two international automobile manufacturers, Ford and General Motors, sensing the potential, set up local companies that year to sell and service their motor cars and trucks.

In 1928, General Motors India Ltd commenced assembling trucks and cars in its factory in Bombay, the first car assembled in India rolling off the assembly line on December 4th. Two years later, Ford Motor Co of India Ltd commenced assembly of automobiles in Madras, and the next year in Bombay and Calcutta. And in 1936, Addison & Co Ltd commenced assembly of cars and trucks in Madras.

Hindustan Motors Ltd, Calcutta, and Premier Automobiles Ltd, Bombay, were established in 1942 and 1944 respectively to progressively manufacture complete automobiles. Hindustan Motors, a Birla group company, began manufacturing operations in 1948 by assembling Morris Oxford cars and Bedford trucks, gradually indigenising the components. In 1957, the Morris Oxford, substantially indigenised, was re-introduced as the Hindustan Ambassador.

Aditya 29th January 2010 11:59 AM

Looks like we are in for an interesting read!!

350Z 29th January 2010 12:07 PM

Brilliant thread. Marked as Sticky! I'll try pour some information.

Drive Safe,

RSM 29th January 2010 12:12 PM

Let us look back at history!!
8 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Aditya (Post 21673)
Looks like we are in for an interesting read!!

Yes let us make it interesting as well as informative.


Originally Posted by 350Z (Post 21677)
Brilliant thread. Marked as Sticky! I'll try pour some information.

And yes everybody should put some infomation, if they have.

Premier Automobiles Ltd (PAL) was promoted by Walchand Hirachand, in collaboration with the Chrysler Corporation of the US. In March 1947, the company began assembling Chrysler products: Dodge, De Soto, and Plymouth cars and Dodge, De Soto and Fargo trucks. Indigestion started in 1949 with the manufacture of radiators, mufflers, springs, propeller shafts, shock absorbers, etc.

In 1950 PAL entered into a collaboration with Fiat, SpA of Italy and started assembly of Fiat 1100 cars. In 1953, following the Tariff Commission report, the Government of India granted protection to the automobile industry, thus enabling Premier Automobiles to step up its manufacturing program with full vigour and, in 1954, the first Indian-made ‘Fiat 1100’ cars rolled out.

In the early years of the automotive industry, more attention was paid to manufacturing cars than buses and trucks. The progressive manufacture of Tata-Mercedes-Benz diesel trucks and buses in India began in Poona in October 1954, after Tata Motors and Daimler-Benz had tied up. And the next year Ashok Leyland began manufacture of its Comet trucks. Fords and General Motors, not confident of indigenising production, may have pulled out, but the Indian manufacturers confidently forged ahead. And the Indian Automobile Industry had by the late 1950s put down firm roots.

RSM 29th January 2010 12:32 PM

Early Two Wheelers in India
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Starting in the 1950s with the Automobile Products of India (API) that manufactured the Lambrettas and Bajaj Auto Ltd. with its association with Piaggio of Italy (manufacturer of Vespa scooters).

Automobile Products of India (AUTOPRD) was founded in 1949. The company manufactured Lambretta scooters and ancillaries under licence but has not been operational since 2002. Most of the scooters were sold under the Lamby brand name while the ancillaries usually bore the API moniker.

It was in the year 1954 that the Indian government ordered for total number of 800 motorcycles to man the Pakistani borders. In came the Bullets which were initially launched in England as a 350cc bike and it was upgraded to 500cc a year or so later. These bikes have remained unaltered, barring some cosmetic changes which have undergone over the years. Thus one can say without much of a doubt that the 1955 Bullet was one of the initial hits of the Indian two-wheeler industry and till today it continues to be a darling of the motorcycle enthusiasts.

Enfield Bullet had a close competition with another sturdy bike named Rajdoot; as the bike was strong enough to handle the rough Indian roads. The company had roped in Indian He-man Dharmendra for the promotion of the bike. With more than 1.6 million vehicles on the road the Rajdoot motorcycle was one of the initial hits of the earlier years of two-wheeler history in the country.

cooldhaya 30th January 2010 08:43 PM

Great info RSM. It brings back the old memories.

RSM 1st February 2010 11:04 PM

Upto 1980
9 Attachment(s)
Let us extend this topic till 1980.

Some Old Cars pictures

Fiat 1100

Attachment 1928

Attachment 1929

Attachment 1930

Jawa - Yezdi

IDEAL JAWA (INDIA) LIMITED popularly known as JAWA started operations in the year 1960 with the main objective to manufacture motorcycles among other things. The idea was to deliver to the consumers a product that defined value for money.

The logo "ForEver Bike ForEverValue" very aptly signifies the ideology behind the product. This motive remains unchanged to this day, even in the face of stiff competition.

JAWA started commercial production of motorcycles in the year 1961 in technical colloboration with JAWA LIMITED of erstwhile Czechoslovakia and during the years 1961 to 1985 put up a good performance and achieved good profitability levels. The peak capacity utilisation was 85% with 36,000 vehicles on a capacity of 42,000 vehicles per annum. The collaboration agreement with JAWA of Czechoslovakia which, among other things ensured continuous availiability of technical knowledge from the said collaborator ended in 1968, by which time JAWA had established an in house expertise for achieving wholly indigenous manufacturing technology and also design of vehicles known under the brand name of "YEZDI".

JAWA had established market and had brand loyalty in Southern, Western and Northern regions and till 1985-86, they were in the seller's market . It was now that there was an aggressive entry into the domestic market by Japanese technology backed vehicles of 100cc category which were more fuel efficient, with sophisticated design, and state-of-the-art technology.

Bajaj & Vespa
The Bajaj Group was formed in the first days of India's independence from Britain. Its founder, Jamnalal Bajaj, had been a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who reportedly referred to him as a fifth son. 'Whenever I spoke of wealthy men becoming the trustees of their wealth for the common good I always had this merchant prince principally in mind,' said the Mahatma after Jamnalal's death.

Jamnalal Bajaj was succeeded by his eldest son, 27-year-old Kamalnayan, in 1942. Kamalnayan, however, was preoccupied with India's struggle for independence. After this was achieved, in 1947, Kamalnayan consolidated and diversified the group, branching into cement, ayurvedic medicines, electrical equipment, and appliances, as well as scooters.

The precursor to Bajaj Auto had been formed on November 29, 1945 as M/s Bachraj Trading Ltd. It began selling imported two- and three-wheeled vehicles in 1948 and obtained a manufacturing license from the government 11 years later. The next year, 1960, Bajaj Auto became a public limited company.

Rahul Bajaj reportedly adored the famous Vespa scooters made by Piaggio of Italy. In 1960, at the age of 22, he became the Indian licensee for the make; Bajaj Auto began producing its first two-wheelers the next year.

Rahul Bajaj became the group's chief executive officer in 1968 after first picking up an MBA at Harvard. He lived next to the factory in Pune, an industrial city three hours' drive from Bombay. The company had an annual turnover of Rs 72 million at the time. By 1970, the company had produced 100,000 vehicles. The oil crisis soon drove cars off the roads in favor of two-wheelers, much cheaper to buy and many times more fuel-efficient.

A number of new models were introduced in the 1970s, including the three-wheeler goods carrier and Bajaj Chetak early in the decade and the Bajaj Super and three-wheeled, rear engine Autorickshaw in 1976 and 1977. Bajaj Auto produced 100,000 vehicles in the 1976-77 fiscal year alone.

The technical collaboration agreement with Piaggio of Italy expired in 1977. Afterward, Piaggio, maker of the Vespa brand of scooters, filed patent infringement suits to block Bajaj scooter sales in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, and Hong Kong. Bajaj's scooter exports plummeted from Rs 133.2 million in 1980-81 to Rs 52 million ($5.4 million) in 1981-82, although total revenues rose five percent to Rs 1.16 billion. Pretax profits were cut in half, to Rs 63 million.

ilango[speed thirst] 2nd February 2010 08:56 AM

Really one of the best thread here.

Is that you in the above picture?

There was lamb scooter with my grand dad, which was disposed for 200rs some 12 years before. One of the uncle had a rajdoot bike , it was so majestic to look. It was also rusted and finally disposed in 2004 for 450rs.

And i did read some where , that the present mini truck 407 was designed with benz collaboration by TATA and was in sale from 1973.
And the design/looks are same till today. Only thing is power steering and turbo added to the old mill. May be a slight change in gear box and others.

It has a history of making as trucking in city became difficult. so a mini truck was introduced.
now the same TATA has introduced ACE for the same purpose.

A small note :
23 years back itself(86 's time) , the HM paid a sum of 200 to mechanic who did PDI for there new cars.In a day they get aroung 4 to 6 cars.

And in the year 1975 's mechanics were paid a sum of 140 for PDI , (recalls a retired man in this field)

cooldhaya 2nd February 2010 11:13 AM

Hey great info RSM!! You have reminded me of my dad's black Yezdi which he bought when studying in college! The twin exhausts along with the circular headlamps gave this bike a macho look. When i was a small kid i used to jump in joy knowing that dad has come home after hearing the thump sound from the twin exhausts! I really loved this bike and would always sit only on the petrol tank in front of my dad so that i get a feel riding the bike!!

And a turnover of 72 millions is so huge at those periods! Wish to know what was done with that much of money!

Aditya 2nd February 2010 11:35 AM

The Yezdi was a real fun bike to drive. You could really lean into corners with that one.
Your thread brought back memories!!
My senior had a Yezdi which used to run on kerosene (lack of Vitamin M!!) and when finally he got rich enough to shift to petrol, the bike would just not run!!

RSM 2nd February 2010 11:44 AM


Originally Posted by ilango[speed thirst] (Post 22097)
Is that you in the above picture?

Oh no, i was not even born that time.[:)]


Originally Posted by cooldhaya (Post 22106)
You have reminded me of my dad's black Yezdi which he bought when studying in college!

Even we had first motor vehicle in our home - Yezdi. I still miss its heavey and muscular driving of Yezdi.

ilango[speed thirst] 2nd February 2010 03:00 PM

Dad's friend still has one yezdi

Its black and silver one.
Even now , i can hear the sound some 3 min ago , whenever he visits our house. Expecting him this Sunday hehe

Aditya 2nd February 2010 03:51 PM

Before the 100ccs hit the Indian roads, it was the bike of choice for most of the fighter pilots when we were stationed at an airforce base.
And all of them used to turn the YEZDI emblem upside down to read IPZAH!!

RSM 2nd February 2010 04:57 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Tata's commercial vehicles

1954 Collaboration with Daimler Benz AG, West Germany, for manufacture of medium commercial vehicles. The first vehicle rolled out within 6 months of the contract.

1977 First commercial vehicle manufactured in Pune.

source -
pitures from wikipedia

Akash 2nd February 2010 05:37 PM

Excellent thread. Good work guys.

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