Premier Automobiles

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  • Topic: Maruti Suzuki, Fiat, Suzuki
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  • Published : April 8, 2013
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Premier Automobiles is an Indian automaker which monopolized period from the 1950s till the early 1990s when India was closed to the world and imports. In 1949, parts were being made in India, starting with simpler components and gradually building up to more complex pieces. Two companies made parts: Premier and Hindustan Motors of Calcutta. The early years of Premier and Hindustan were marked by very low sales, due to the size of the market; only about 20,000 vehicles per year were made in India, in 65 different models. To prevent foreign companies from dominating by mass-producing parts to be assembled into cars in India, the government set up steep import duties on imported parts in 1954, allowing Indian parts-makers to survive. Premier also made a licensed version of the Fiat 1100 which later continued almost unchanged into the late 1990s as the Premier Padmini with a 40 hp (30 kW) 1100 cc engine and built at their now defunct Kurla factory in sub-urban Mumbai. Later models included the Premier 118NE (named after its 1180 cc Nissan A engine and transmission from the Nissan Cherry), a version of the 1960s Fiat 124 built in a then-new (but now defunct) factory at Kalyan, considered a luxury car in India till the influx of modern cars in the 1990s. These cars were With market liberalization Premier tied up with Peugeot to build a outdated scrapped model of the popular Peugeot 309 in India. Initial demand was high but labour problems and poor dealer service led to problems which were compounded when Premier also tied up with old partners Fiat to manufacture the Fiat Uno. Peugeot pulled out of the venture around 2001 after burning their fingers and never to return with only a few thousand cars sold. Labour and service issues also plagued the Fiat venture and a massive strike finally caused the plant to shut around 2001 with Fiat left to fend for itself with its reputation marred. Not only Fiat, but also the Premier Automobiles Ltd., faced severe criticism in media. The Fiat 1100D debuted in India in 1964 with a carburetted 1,089 cc four-cylinder engine rather than the 1,221 cc engine fitted to the GranLuce in Italy. With a 7.8:1 compression ratio, it put out 40 bhp (30 kW) at 4,800 rpm with a maximum torque of 7.20 kg·m (71 N·m; 52 lb·ft) at 3,000 rpm. The original transmission was a four-speed manual gearbox, with an un-synchronized first, that drove the rear wheels through a live axle. It had a column-mounted shifter, on the left-hand side of the steering column. Weighing 895 kg (1,970 lb) the car could attain a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph). Premier manufactured it at their Kurla, Mumbai plant until they sold a majority stake to Fiat SpA in September 1997. First sold as the Fiat 1100 Delight, the 1100D was preceded in the Indian market by the Fiat 1100-103. It was also briefly sold as the Premier President (only for the 1973 model year) until it finally settled down as the Premier Padmini. By the mid-eighties, a more powerful version which offered 44 bhp (33 kW) at 5,000 rpm was also available. Claimed top speed increased to 119 km/h (74 mph). The Padmini was only available with petrol engines until 1996, when they introduced a diesel variant. Premier Padmini was very popular as an entry level car and among youngsters, and was also popular among women, who found the car easier to drive than the Ambassador. However, after the advent of more modern cars from GM, Ford, Fiat, Tata etc., the demand for the Padmini began to wane. Maruti Suzuki has grabbed the lion's share of the market and the intense competition between the new auto manufacturers brought modern fuel-efficient cars to the Indian marketplace in the late 1990's. Premier tried to adapt the Padmini to the competition by introducing a floor-shift gearbox, bucket seats and more powerful fuel efficient engines, including a diesel variant (137D) which was introduced in 1996. But the Padmini never regained its old glory and its now outdated design proved to be the...
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