The Much (Un)Loved Concorde

Watching a big-ticket Hollywood movie is always a spectacle in itself with breathtaking CGI scenes, stunning animations, amazing (though often repeated) storyline, bold themes and the devil-may-care attitude of it's makers. Truly, the Hollywood filmmakers are not bound by so many social laws and rules that their Indian counterparts are bombarded with. At the end of the day, you also get a feeling that it's worth for the money that you have spent. Two of the recent movies that I have watched have been G.I.Joe and 2012. Both these movies had their fair share of completely illogical and ridiculous things happening in them but the fact is that they were packaged in a stunning and convincing way that you will not be able to completely refuse it either. While the former had menacing sci-fi machines looking straight out of an alien land and super spacecrafts that could go around and destroy missiles as far as over NewYork and Moscow in seconds, the latter had extravagant ships that could even withstand "end of the world"!

These things place a very obvious question in front of our mind - Are these going to be the machines of the future? Are we going to see and experience machines like these any time soon in our life? Though our heart will start beating faster thinking about the prospects of seeing things like these and will give a "Yes", our mind would say a definite "No no". Case in point, the sad demise of the "Concorde". Having let go off the closest machine that the public had access to like the one we see on these sci-fi movies, we don't really have a chance to see or experience machines like these in the near future.

The only real supersonic travel experience within the reach of the public deserved a much better run and more love from the public than what it actually garnered. Just imagine the feeling of traveling faster than sound which is just what this sleek monster provided. Though one can't deny the associated "Sonic Boom" that almost deafened the people directly under it's path and the gas-guzzling nature of it's turbojet engine, the universal truth is that "All things good come at a cost". For reasons not related to it directly, the most significant of them being the crash of the Air France Concorde in 2000 because of a chunk of metal in the runway from an aircraft which took off earlier and the economic depression, the flying of Concorde became nonviable for the associated airlines and the last flight happened in November 2003. I remember being very upset on seeing the last flight in news channels as it not only marked the end of an icon in aviation history but also ended one of my dreams of traveling in the Concorde one fine day. I had it on top of my Things To Do Before I Die list.

Personal feelings apart, I really wish there is a true successor to the Concorde lurking underground somewhere and is unveiled one day much to the surprise and excitement of the public and once again giving us the chance of traveling supersonic!


Cool Concepts #1 - Tata Prima

The idea behind the conceptualization of this new series "Cool Concepts" is very simple. Posts with this title will feature cars showcased by manufacturers as Concepts, which are my favorites and nevertheless too good in their own respect, but have not made it to production till now for various reasons.


* Manufacturer: Tata 
* Model Name: Prima Concept 
* Debut: 2009 Geneva Motor Show 
* Competitors: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic

    Launching this series is our very own Tata Prima concept displayed at 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Having done this for close to a decade now, displaying concepts in Geneva is not new for Tata but the unfortunate fact is that literally none of them have been transformed from concept stage to production as yet.

    Just one glance at the Prima will tell that this thing looks nothing like what Tata has ever produced. Infact, none of the models that Tata has made so far even comes close to this beauty. The styling of this sedan was done by the famed Italian design house "Pininfarina" who are better known for designing Ferraris and Alfa-Romeos than Tatas. Except for a slightly odd grille at the front, the rest of the car looks fabulous. Especially the rear with its XF like taillights will not look out of place in a Jaguar. I could imagine that if this thing runs on Indian roads with the Tata badge, its sure to catapult Tata's Brand Image to an all-together higher level with its stunning head-turning design and looks. This would be the first Tata that people would 'want to buy' rather than forced to buy.

    Hope Tata is listening and does not let a beauty like this run into the drain just like their concepts of previous years.


    The "Made in India" Cars

    Its amazing how a single phone call can make your mind run somewhere and think of something totally irrelevant to the discussion that took place. When one of my friend who is currently in Denmark said that every time he steps out, he could spot quite a few Hyundai i10, i20 and Suzuki Alto cars on the roads, I was brimming with joy here as those cars should have been Made in India. I had this same feeling in me when I spotted and snapped an Atos Prime in Dubai (in picture).

    Not so long ago, the only cars worth mentioning made in our country were the Ambassador and Premier Padmini until Maruti came and broke their dominance with the little 800. It was not until the mid 90's our market opened up and liberalized the rules for foreign manufacturers to enter the country. Being a late entrant in allowing the foreign makers to come and manufacture their cars here, it's worth mentioning that we have made rapid strides in a short time on the way to become what we are currently.

    It makes all of us feel proud and hold our head high when something positive about our country is said or written about. And that is exactly what is happening in the Auto Industry now across the globe and more so in Europe. Though car exports from India were done in minuscule numbers before , it was Hyundai which started this trend by making India it's small car export hub.  The "Atos Prime" (rebadged Santro for export markets) has become a trendsetter of sorts by becoming the first car made in India to be exported in significant numbers followed by the i10 and i20. From then on, there was no looking back as Maruti-Suzuki followed suit with the new Alto (A-Star) and now Renault-Nissan is looking to expand this further by planning to shift it's small car "Micra" production from UK to India in 2010.

    Frankly, cars like the i10, i20 and Alto have become so successful in Europe and other markets that the factories in India are not able to churn out enough of them. Also the high levels of quality with which these cars are made have made them equally competitive as their Japanese or German made counterparts and have given serious credentials to the "Made in India" tag.  So much so that at the end of this year, India would have exported more number of cars than even China. Kudos to Hyundai and Maruti for completely changing the perception about Indian manufacturing and for giving the "Made in India" tag global acceptance and reach.


    Stop Drunken Driving Please

    My mood gets completely spoiled when I hear or read or see something related to "Drunken Driving". We as citizens stand united in fighting against social evils such as Terrorism, Racism, Corruption, etc and raise hues and cries against them but when it comes to  opposing an activity that's equally if not more dangerous,  not many people give it a damn concern. What is even more astonishing is the number of instances which we come across in our day-to-day life involving these drunken maniacs. 

    Take for instance, the incident which happened yesterday in my neighborhood. A group of kids were playing in front of their apartment when suddenly a guy in a Pulsar came off the road and drove directly in the direction in which they were playing. Luckily all of them escaped unhurt as the biker lost his control and balance and fell down. It was later found out that he was heavily drunk. What if the guy hadn't fallen down and drove directly into the kids? Is it a sin on part of the kids playing in front of their apartment (that too a few feet off the road) that their life could be at stake? Aren't the lives of these kids and many other innocent people who get injured or die because of some morons who booze off and drive valuable? Who will teach them to stop this nonsense? 

    And this is the second instance in less than a month that I have seen. A few weeks ago, we had a huge traffic-jam on the way to work and the cause of it was the accident in the picture. It was taken by me and we were later told that the driver of that particular truck was under the influence of alcohol.The truck had hit the wall of the flyover and in the impact had rolled over to its side. Imagine what would have happened if at all there was an ill-fated two-wheeler near that truck when the accident happened and the container fell down.

    Please have a look at this picture atleast and STOP DRIVING WHEN YOU ARE DRUNK. If at all you have to booze off, take an auto or cab back home without putting others lives in danger !!!


    The Big Blue Oval

    For most part of the last century, the global automotive scene has been dominated by the "Big 3" of USA. We all have grown up reading about GM, Ford & Chrysler and later, the rise of an Asian giant called "Toyota". Chrysler's association with the much-touted Daimler of Germany, which was marketed as a "Merger of Equals", triggered a landslide for Chrysler from which it was never able to really recover. On the other hand, GM and Ford went about adding brands into their folds until they realized one day it was too heavy carrying them off profitably. It was already too late and the worst economic slump the auto-industry had seen in many decades had already started. Now, when the market is showing signs of recovery hinting that the good old days will be back very soon, only one of the Detroit Big 3 has survived the turmoil without filing for bankruptcy. The Big Blue Oval (Ford) is scripting a turnaround story that is sure to go down in the history-books as one of the most amazing comebacks ever.

    The way Ford is turning around things under the dynamic leadership of it's CEO Mr.Alan Mulally is nothing short of spectacular and marvelous. The first signs of Ford's recovery started with the perfect timing in which it started divesting in it's brands. The sale of Aston-Martin, Jaguar & Land Rover gave Ford the time and much-needed money to focus on the development of it's core brand. The other amazing thing Ford did was the development and launch of absolutely stunning and region-specific models, that were ultra-successful in different parts of the globe.

    It all started with the launch of the brilliant Fiesta in Europe and later in China. The car became an instant hit in both these important markets thus bringing in the volumes and keeping the cash registers flowing. Just like what the Grande Punto did for Fiat a few years back, this car has single-handedly revived Ford's fortunes in two of it's biggest markets in the globe. As a matter of fact, Ford has reached it's highest market share in Europe for the past few years last month, courtesy the superb sales of the Fiesta. It's home market of USA saw Ford launching a redesign of the iconic F150 pickup and the very capable Fusion models. Both the models are still selling like hot cakes and helped Ford in sustaining comparatively better sales numbers while the other two domestic automakers kept loosing sales month after month. Ford is all set for a hatrick in the US market with it's latest model, the Taurus. The next big launch is going to be the same European Fiesta for the US market and with that, Ford is sure to leave it's rivals gasping for breath and scurrying for cover.

    The Indian market too, where Ford wa(i)s just a sleeping giant, has recently witnessed the public unveiling of it's small car, the Figo. Though it is based on the previous generation Fiesta, the Figo with it's diesel engine and value-for-money pricing, is sure to catapult Ford into the big league along with Maruti, Hyundai and Tata. Let's hope that Ford gets everything right with the Figo in India and we get to witness a success story that has already been seen and much talked and written about across the globe.