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Home >Auto News >Automakers veer towards mid-size SUVs as  sales soar

Automakers in India are lining up a slew of mid-size sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) for launch over the next year to score gains in this fast-growing segment that has overshadowed sedan sales for the past few years.

Companies have been encouraged by the shift in customer preference towards mid-size SUVs, as evidenced by the resounding success of Hyundai Motor India Ltd and Kia Motors India.

Volkswagen AG, the world’s largest automaker, will enter the segment this year with two SUVs under the Volkswagen and Skoda brands. Skoda Auto’s Kushaq model is set to go on sale in July, which will be followed by VW’s Taigun, as part of its India 2.0 plan. Both brands will hope to exploit the current demand surge for mid-sized SUVs and grow their small share of the Indian market.

Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, along with its alliance partner, Toyota Motor Corp., is expected to enter the segment with a completely new vehicle codenamed YFG in an attempt to recover its lost market share in the segment. China’s SAIC-owned MG Motor will also start selling its first mid-size SUV in India by this year-end.

Meanwhile, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd—once India’s largest maker of SUVs—is likely to launch the next-generation Scorpio later this year as part of efforts to regain its leadership position through a range of new products.

A senior industry executive said the mid-size SUV segment has a lot of potential since the penetration of such vehicles is now limited to metros and some tier-I cities. In terms of sales volume, the segment is almost as big as that of entry-level SUVs, leading more companies to introduce models.

“At least four to five manufacturers are expected to launch their respective offerings in this segment in the next year or so. Not only is this segment drawing volumes, but the products also command high margins compared to entry-level sedans and premium hatchbacks," the executive said, seeking anonymity.

India’s growing middle-class population is increasingly choosing SUVs over sedans to tackle the country’s rough roads. SUVs are also considered safer than cars and are favoured by men as they exude power.

The demand for vehicles with such body styles have been growing world over, and the trend has started in India as well. Mid-size SUVs offer a high ground clearance, bigger boot space and more utility than a sedan. Hence, most customers are drifting towards such vehicles," said Avik Chattopadhyay, co-founder, Expereal, a brand consultancy.

Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, the local unit of VW, expects sales of mid-size SUVs to jump 83% by 2029. “That’s a conservative estimate to my mind. It could even double in the next nine years," said Gurpratap Bopparai, managing director, Skoda Auto Volkswagen. He did not disclose the sales volume expected by 2029.

France’s Renault is largely credited with creating the mid-size SUV segment in India when it launched the Duster in 2013. However, it was Hyundai that began to draw significant volumes after introducing the Creta SUV in 2015. In certain months, the South Korean company produced around 10,000 units of the Creta at its plant near Chennai.

Hyundai launched the second-generation of the Creta in March 2020 and sold more than 120,000 units despite the adverse impact of covid. Increased demand for the new Creta and its entry-level SUV model, Venue, propelled Hyundai to surpass Maruti as the largest manufacturer of SUVs in India. Kia Motors also received a strong response after entering the Indian market with its mid-size SUV, Seltos.

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