New Delh, Feb.12: There was a mad scramble, and it was Harpal Singh of Delhi who bought the first one and drove into history. His keys were handed over to him by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on December 14, 1983. Will there be a scramble to own the last?
The Maruti 800, which changed the Indian concept of cars, will be phased out from 13 cities where Bharat Stage-IV emissions norms are going to be operational from April 1. The beginning of the end of a tale of not just success, but aspiration and social change.
For the little wonder, when launched, was the first "people’s car." Those that had aspired to own two-wheelers only, could buy a Maruti 800 at Rs 52,000. Today, 26 years later, you could get one for Rs 1,85,715.
But back then, it was not just a middle class revolution. It took no time for the snazzy 796cc car to become a status symbol and the ultimate ride was one in a bright red Maruti 800.
Over 25 lakh Maruti 800s have been sold, with an average 100,000 cars being produced every year. Till the Maruti Alto was launched, the 800 was the best-selling car in India. It is also second only to the sturdy Ambassador in the number of years it has been in production.
On Friday, Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava said that the company had no plans to upgrade the car to the Bharat Stage-IV standard. "I don’t think we have any plan to make the M-800 BS-IV compliant," he said, announcing curtains for India’s most successful car ever.
While 13 cities, including the metros, will come under Bharat Stage-IV emissions norms from April 1 this year, other Indian cities too will follow in the next few years.