Small SUVs are winning big in India as hatches get sidelaned


Mumbai: For SUVs, small is big. The seemingly insatiable demand for sport utility vehicles is set to continue unabated – this year will see at least 18 launches, a majority of them in the sub-4 metre compact category and electric avatars.

Some of the upcoming compact SUVs that will be electrically powered include French carmaker Citroen’s C3, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ai3, the Mahindra XUV300 and KUV 100, the Tata Punch, the VW ID.4, and the Kia Sonet EV. Vehicles shorter than 4 metres in length that meet engine capacity limits are levied a lower excise rate.

The SUV segment has been growing in volume and consequently market share, with several new models being introduced, whereas passenger car model launches have come down drastically, experts said.

“The compact SUV segment has attracted attention of most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as this category has zoomed from a 5% market share in 2016 to being the largest segment of the auto industry at 23%,” said Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. The largest car maker’s push for 50% total domestic market share involves continued domination of passenger vehicles and improving its SUV stake.

Maruti’s launches include two compact SUVs – the Jimny and the Baleno-based Fronx – to compete with Mahindra models. “There is now a significant overlap in pricing with premium hatches and entry sedans.”

‘SUVs Preferred for Utility, Design’

“This has resulted in a significant increase in consideration for the SUVs, which come much cheaper nowadays,” Srivastava said.Mahindra recently launched its electric SUV, the XUV 400. The company is also seeing increasing traction for SUVs, where it has had several launches in the recent past.

“In all matured markets, SUVs and pickups contribute more than 50% to passenger vehicle sales,” said Veejay Nakra, president, Mahindra Automotive. “India, in the last four-five years, is seeing a shift with SUVs as the preferred choice because of their utility, design, space and safety.”

Jato Dynamics president Ravi Bhatia said, “SUVs are loved for their robustness and practicality. But those seeking a low-emission vehicle may be discouraged by an SUV’s fuel consumption. That’s where an electric SUV is extremely valuable.”

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a focus area given the thrust on carbon neutrality targets.

Tata Motors plans to launch 10 EVs in five years targeting a penetration of 25%-plus, said Shailesh Chandra, MD, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility.

OEMs are also actively including electric propulsion in their SUV roadmap as they are cheaper to maintain, fuel efficient and packed with the latest technology and safety features, said Jato’s Bhatia.

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