As one of the most recognizable cars in the world and the title holder of Top Gear’s “world’s best taxi,” the Hindustan Ambassador (Morris Oxford) is deeply woven in the fabric of Indian motoring. With the rights to the brand now resting with Groupe PSA, a whole new generation of Indian drivers await to get behind the wheel of the reborn icon. While that trip is still a few years away, an Indian group has developed an electric version making the historic car relevant again.
Built by a team at the He-Man Auto Robo Park at Mookkannoor in Kerala, the Ambassador Electric uses a total of 22 lead-acid batteries (20 kWh capacity) and a motor with a maximum power of 53 bhp and a peak torque of 275 Nm. The car can shift from 0 to 60 km/h in 11 seconds with a top speed of 120 km/h. The batteries can be charged in eight hours and return a range of 100 km per charge. The team calculates that that the running cost is Rs 1/km.
The pilot project was led by Ashin Jose, R&D division Head of He-Man Group, Paul P Varghese, Director and Vimal Cherian, Engineer along with the personnel at He-Man. The team acquired an old Ambassador for Rs 30,000 and spend around Rs 6 lakh for the electrical components. Engine parts and other components that weren’t needed were removed or replaced, with batteries mounted in empty spaces under the bonnet and boot. The team is using lead-acid batteries for now and is willing to shift to lithium-ion batteries when the latter becomes more accessible. There is also a plan to mount solar panels on the car’s roof to extend the range and cut running costs further.
The Ambassador EV also gets a digital instrument cluster that was developed in-house. The display offers a dual pod layout for power output and speedometer, while information like the odometer, range, battery level and more are also displayed. The car also comes equipped with regenerative braking technology.
For now, the project car cannot be driven on public roads as it hasn’t received any kind of approval from the authorities. The He-Man group has been involved in EV development only for the past two months and is keen to focus on retrofitting commercial vehicles for their business.