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The Maruti 800 model captured the imagination of middle-class Indians

The Maruti 800 model captured the imagination of middle-class Indians

Today, one in two cars sold in India has the Maruti badge. Not just that, the credit for a robust automobiles industry whose output makes for about five per cent of India's GDP is mostly with Maruti Suzuki.

In 1983, Maruti Udyog, as the carmaker was called then,rolled out India'sfirst all-Japanese hatchback, the Maruti 800. It was small compared to the soapdish-like Ambassador and the Fiat-designed Premier Padmini but partner Suzuki'stechnology made the it zippy, easy to drive and, relatively speaking,club-class comfortable. And, cheaper: some Rs 45,000, less than half the cost ofan Ambassador then.

The car grabbed the middle class Indian's imagination andbefore the decade turned, it was the preferred choice among cars made in India; today, one in two cars sold in India has theMaruti badge. Not just that, the credit for a robust automobiles industry whoseoutput makes for about five per cent of India's GDP is mostly with MarutiSuzuki, as the carmaker is called since September 2007. Five years earlier, theIndian government had sold a controlling stake in the venture to Suzuki.

By Anusha Subramanian, Anand Adhikari, K.R. Balasubramanyam, Rajiv Bhuva, Josey Puliyenthuruthel,G. Seetharaman and Sunny Sen