SkodaAuto India launches SUV Yeti

SkodaAuto India launches SUV Yeti

New Delhi: Amid debates over comments of minister of environment and forests Jairam Ramesh for ban on sports utility vehicles, yet another SUV hits the Indian road, this time from the stable of SkodaAuto.

The company launched Yeti priced at Rs15.40 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi).

“Despite Ramesh’s comment the sales of SUV is on the rise. It has grown over 80% over the last year. Regarding his concerns, we have been continuosly trying to upgrade our vehicles in terms of emission and fuel efficiency," said Thomas Kuehl, member of the board and director, sales and marketing, SkodaAuto.

Yeti boasts of a mileage of 17.7 km/litre and emission of 1.4 carbon micro gram/hour. “Yeti is a proud proof that even an SUV can achieve low consumption and emissions," Kuehl said.

“The luxurious growth of large-size vehicles like SUVs is really a growth of concern, use of vehicles like SUVs and BMW in countries like is criminal," Ramesh had said last week.

Carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, once emitted remains in the atmosphere for decades creating a warm blanket around the planet. Scientists have contended that the accumulation beyond a certain limit could tip the planet towards climatic disasters.

While 70% of cars sold in are small cars, volumes have been growing in other segments too. The utility vehicles segment has grown 21% in the first half of the fiscal. Car makers sold 154,500 SUVs in April-September, compared with 127,400 units a year ago.

The growth of SUV segment in comes at time when the western countries are opting for small and more fuel-efficient cars after the global recession.

Last week, Tata Motors Ltd, the country’s largest vehicle manufacturer, launched its Aria crossover, which is built on a sedan platform but has the features of a traditional SUV. Hyundai Motors India Ltd followed this by launching its globally successful SUV, the Santa Fe.

“We are targeting the sedan buyers," said Kuehl of SkodaINdia. “We have priced it very attractively which is why expect to woo the sedan buyers."

An expert believes that the company has priced the car very wisely. “See the company has placed the product at a place where it hardly has competition and this may help it a lot as far as sales of the vehicle is concerned," said Prayesh Jain of India Infoline.

The company has already made 1,000 bookings till date and expects to sell 450-550 units per month.

Small car project

Skoda also said that it is in talks with ’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki for developing a small car. A top Maruti Suzuki official said, “There have been talks regarding this in but at the moment nothing has been conveyed to us." The official requested anonymity. Maruti chairman R.C. Bhargava declined to comment on the issue.

“Maruti has a lot of expertise in the small car segment. We may seek Maruti’s input in the small car project," Kuehl said.

SkodaAuto’s parent Volkswagen had last year picked up 19.9% stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. for $2.5 billion, following which the partners have been exploring possibilities of joint production and vehicle design.

“Suzuki is interested in our engines and we (Volkswagen) are interested in Suzuki’s expertise in small car and without Maruti, Suzuki will be not in today’s position. It (Maruti Suzuki’s input in SkodaAuto’s small car) is a decision that will be discussed and taken by both the (firms’) headquarters," Kuehl said.

Last month, both Volkswagen (VW) and Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) had said that the two global car makers are likely to announce India-specific plans that may include joint production and vehicle design by early next year.

SkodaAuto had announced to introduce a small car in the Indian market within next two years at a price between Rs3-5 lakh. It had also announced to launch a sedan in Rs6-10 lakh range in 2011.

The development of the small car is going on and the company planned to launch the model in both petrol and diesel versions.

PTI contributed to the story