In the ancient times man always dreamt of running or moving faster than the wind. But his dreams came true only with the invention of wheels. The history of automobiles in India actually began only about 4000 years ago, when the first wheel was used for transportation. The initial models were crude ones, with little or no expediency. With movement from place to place becoming a necessity, there were chances of interaction between cultures and exchange of ideas. This brought in development in all areas, including automobiles. Thus vehicles came to attain sophistication. The dream of a carriage which moved on its own was realised in its full only in the 18th century, when the first car rolled on the streets.

But cars hit the Indian roads only by the 20th century. They were then treated as a luxury and were mainly used by kings and noblemen. But with India’s transport network fast developing, the automobile industry gained tremendous growth. Now assortments of cars, from mid-size to big size, luxury to premium to utility cars, are inundating the Indian roads. The car industry in India is rapidly growing, what with the boom in our economic growth and rising demand. Major car companies around the world are now vying with each other to stake their claim in India. And many of them have either opened their manufacturing plants in India or are importing vehicles to cater to the huge Indian market. After covering the urban market and the rural rich, the industry is now striding inroads into the rural middle class.

The two major forces to reckon with in India in this field are Maruti and Tata. Maruti delivers a variety of passenger vehicles, from compact to luxury cars. Maruti Swift was widely accepted even when it first came into the market. With its stylish interiors, decent performance and reasonable pricing, it suddenly became a rage among the masses. Wagon R gained ready acceptance because of its tall body, hight seats and wide-opening doors. Though it looks quite congested from outside, the insides are spacious. Maruti’s SX4 is also an equal hit. Its looks and performance are par excellence. Esteem is one of the oldest cars of Maruti. Its high mileage gives it the topmost position among the other category of cars including the small ones. Versa is Maruti’s most successful Multi Utility Vehicle. It has a flexiseating arrangement, which helps adjust the seating space.

Tata has also come out with an equally interesting array of cars. Its most common and widely accepted product is Indica. It is a great combination of styling, attractive pricing and low running cost. Tata Indigo is a comfortable and spacious sedan in the midsize segment with attractive characteristics. Tata Sumo has been holding position as one of the largest selling Multi Utility Vehicle from the time it first came into the market.

With increasing demand, the major manufacturers in the country are vying with each other to bring economical and performance-perfect cars at reasonable pricing.

Ambika Varma