Life does tend to give you a second chance, but few really know what to do with it or even how to go about bringing themselves back on track. Rewind to the late nineties and you would find Premier Automobiles in just such a situation. With two joint ventures gone bad, a lockout that is still being fought in the courts, losses mounting into hundreds of crores and a nameplate that was about to be wiped out from the face of Indian business, Premier couldn’t have been in a more dire situation than this. Their core competency lost, Premier went back to their sole surviving business of making machine tools and engineering in Pune and it seemed that they would never return to making automobiles. But, Premier was out to prove everybody wrong.
So, in 2004, they came back into the field. They did so by launching a pickup and panel van which we all now know as the Sigma. Sold in a select few states, Premier has seen decent success with these vehicles, producing close to 1000 units each month. And if you thought Premier had banished their past with these commercial vehicles, think again. They brought the 1527cc TUD5 that powered the erstwhile PAL-Peugeot 309, and the Nissan gearbox from the 118NE, back into the Sigma! But they always kept the flame of building cars alive, and so went around doing a market survey.
Since they had a limited production capacity, they wanted to enter a niche that would ensure they could utilise their production capacity of close to 25,000 units completely, and still be modern in build and outlook. The market survey revealed that there existed a need for a cheap SUV that looked just as modern as its larger compatriots yet cost no more than the Suzuki Gypsy at best. They scouted around the world for such a product and found Zotye Auto in China building just one such vehicle — the Zotye 2008.