Indians love SUVs! This has become evident and an established fact now. The utility vehicle segment has been growing aggressively and accounted for 45.03% of the total passenger vehicles in the April-July period in the ongoing fiscal. The segment sold 410,149 units in the first four months of FY22 out of the 910,714 units of total passenger vehicles sold in the country.
This growth is largely driven by the increased preference for the high mounted driving, body styling, new features, and aspiration for a tough personality in society.
To capitalise on this trend many automakers have launched products in the segment. In fact, since January 2020, about 28 SUVs including minor model changes (MMC) and new products have been launched by mass car market brands. Moreover, there are about 14 sub-compact SUVs in the Indian market, the highest number of models in any particular segment.
Even as we write this report, MG Motors, Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki, M&M, Honda Cars and Volkswagen are lining up products for launch in the SUV segment.
|1||Maruti Suzuki India||92,283||32,577|
|2||Hyundai Motor India||79,954||34,212|
|3||Mahindra & Mahindra||63,367||22,601|
|4||Kia Motors India||57,192||17,438|
|6||Toyota Kirloskar Motor||24,093||7,744|
|9||Nissan Motor India||11,774||402|
|10||MG Motor India||11,364||4,827|
|11||FCA India Automobiles||3,019||739|
|12||Honda Cars India||2,560||1,532|
|16||Isuzu Motors India||220||-|
|Utility Vehicles (UVs)||410,149||139,409|
Despite new launches in the segment by various carmakers, Maruti Suzuki continues to hold its number one position with sales of 92,283 units in the April to July period FY22, compared to 32,577 units in the corresponding period last fiscal. The carmaker's popular model Vitara Brezza is the top-selling utility vehicle in the country. Apart from this, the carmaker's presence in the MPV segment with Ertiga and XL6 gives it additional numbers.
Strength of the Korean brands
Following Maruti Suzuki is the South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motors India, which sold 79,954 units in the analysed period. Among its popular models, sub-compact SUV Venue and mid-size SUV Creta contribute the most to Hyundai’s overall sales. The carmaker recently launched 6/7 seater Alcazar to further strengthen its portfolio alongside Tucson.
The company has forecasted that its SUV segment will contribute about 55% of the total sales by 2025. Similarly, its sister subsidiary Kia India, with only three products in the SUV segment, is ranked fourth with sales of 57,192 units in the Apr-Jul FY22 period.
Korean brands Hyundai and Kia together account for 33% of the total SUVs sold in India, effectively meaning every third SUV sold in India is a Korean brand.
The primary reason behind this is the right product placement. Both the brands have pitted products in the high volume/ growth segments, including the sub-compact and mid-sized SUVs, which account for about 80% of the total UV market in India.
Apart from this, both the carmakers offer a wide range of variants across all the four models – Hyundai’s Venue ad Creta, and Kia’s Sonnet and Seltos. The carmakers have variants to offer at a price gap of INR 25,000, offering customers more choice.
Several experts we spoke to cited some other reasons for the Korean brands’ popularity; primary among them being the availability of large numbers of features such as sunroof, air purifiers, multiple transmission options like manual, DCT, and CVT.
Meanwhile, home-grown automakers Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors take up the third and fifth positions respectively in the SUV segment. With the launch of multiple variants of Nexon and the new product Safari, Tata Motors SUV sales zoomed from just 4,477 units in April to July FY21 to 31,303 units in the same period this year.
Experts indicate that utility vehicles will continue to dominate the Indian car market in times to come. IHSMarkit, for instance, predicts that by the end of 2021, SUVs will surpass hatchbacks sales and become the largest body style in India.