There are at least 10 cars that were close to their official introduction in the Indian car market but were shelved at an advanced stage of development owing to varied reasons. Here's a look at the models that were planned but cancelled for India -
10 models that were planned but cancelled for India
Around 2012, Force planned to enter the luxury MPV segment with an MPV based on the Mercedes-Benz Viano. The rebadged Viano would have been the company’s second attempt at the high-end passenger car segment after the Force One. The Viano-based Force MPV would have been positioned close to the Toyota Innova and the Tata Aria. The company had earmarked an investment of INR 400 crores for the production and repurposing of its flagship.
The Tata Indica spawned many new models, including the Indigo, Indigo CS, Indigo XL, and the Marina. In 2011, Tata Motors began road tests of a long-wheelbase variant of the Indica that had a three-row seating and was rumoured to be powered by the 1.4-litre CR4 diesel engine. The Indica XL was never launched as feasibility studies conducted by the company showed little demand for an Indica-based model that would have cost as much as the Vista.
Ford B-Max based 7-seater
Back in 2012, sources informed IAB that a 7-seat version of the Ford B-Max MPV was being developed for markets like that of India. Slated to be called the Grand B-Max, the new model would have had come with a larger wheelbase and a 7-seat layout. In India, the new version of the B-Max would have locked horns with the likes of the Maruti Ertiga and the Honda Mobilio. The project was ultimately shelved as the company decided to shift its focus on the SUV segments.
The earlier generation Toyota Hiace was announced for India and brought to the Auto Expo 2014. The luxury van, which is sold in more than 140 countries, was slated to launch here in the "early second half of 2015'. Unfortunately, however, in the aftermath of the ban on registration of 2,000+ cc diesel passenger vehicles in Delhi-NCR, Toyota Kirloskar Motor decided to put the launch plans on hold. Earlier this month, the sixth-gen Toyota Hiace had its world premiere in the Philippines. TKM could finally bring the Hiace to our shores through the CBU route.
Maruti Wagon R 7 seater
In August 2018, despite earlier reports confirming the variant, IAB learnt that the company has no plans of coming up with a 7-seater version of the country's favourite tallboy. While several rumours stated that the larger version would be released alongside the new-gen model, the third generation of the Wagon R, which went on sale in January 2019, has been available exclusively in a two-row, 5-seat format. Senior management at Maruti Suzuki has already told IAB that it has been contented with the demand for the Eeco and the Ertiga and that the low volumes in the MPV segment don't warrant the introduction of a 7-seater Wagon R.
Tata Motors' ambitious TaMo Racemo project was shelved due to the high cost involved in the production of the 2-door mid-engined sports car. The company would have required to make an investment of INR 250 crore for manufacturing Racemo. The 2-seater was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show and made its local debut at the 2018 Auto Expo in February last year. The company is said to have utilised the funds to turnaround its commercial vehicle division.
Foton first came to India in 2011 and announced investments of INR 1,700 crore throughout five years to set up a commercial vehicles plant. By 2013, the Chinese automaker was spotted testing the Tunland pickup on a few occasions. However, the lack of relevant diesel options in its engine lineup and a lacklustre growth rate of the commercial vehicle market pushed the Chinese automaker to shift its focus away from bringing the pickup to the local market. The company was then said to be preparing its Indian facility for the production of Borgward SUVs for the export market.
The third-generation Nissan X-Trail made its India debut at the Auto Expo 2016 and was even present at Nissan India's tenth-anniversary celebrations. While the company initially planned to launch the hybrid vehicle in India, its engineers’ concern about the performance of the hybrid powertrain in the harsh climate conditions of India resulted in the delay of launch plans. Another reason behind the company's decision to not bring the vehicle to the country was the lack of subsidy by the government to customers of hybrid cars.
Tata Nano Diesel
Around half a decade ago, several sightings of what was alleged to be a diesel-powered Tata Nano were reported. It was believed that the oil burner-equipped version of the highly publicised budget car would draw power from a twin-cylinder, 800 cc engine producing a maximum power of 40 bhp at 4,000 rpm. By March 2014, however, Tata Motors cleared that it has no intentions of launching the diesel version of its most affordable offering. A senior official at Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Business said that the price value equations made it unfeasible to provide a diesel engine option on an A1 segment car.
HM Ambassador Compact Sedan
Around 2013, Hindustan Motors was working on a sub-4-metre version of the Ambassador. The compact sedan derivative, which was spied on a handful of occasions, would have benefitted from the lower taxation on passengers cars measuring below 4 metres in length and with a diesel engine with displacement below 1.5-litre. The Ambassador CS would have been propelled by a BS4-compliant 1.5-litre 1.5-litre diesel engine with a maximum power of 48.6 hp at 4,000 RPM and a peak torque of 112.5 Nm at 2,000 rpm. By May 2014, however, Hindustan Motors had decided to exit the car market owing to mounting losses, a paucity of funds, growing indiscipline, and low productivity.