NEW DELHI: When the going gets tough, off-roaders get going. SUVs are steering a comeback for the Indian car industry, providing some much-needed cheer to corona-battered companies.
According to industry body Siam, in July, SUVs clocked 14% growth in volumes over the corresponding period last year. The rise helped the industry soften the double-digit blows suffered in the demand for sedans and hatchbacks category (-12%) and vans (-19%).
In fact, the overall decline in passenger vehicles (hatchbacks, sedans, SUV/UVs and vans) was contained at just 4% in July. The share of SUVs in total sales of passenger vehicles is now at 39%, compared with 33% in July last year.

Models such as Hyundai’s Creta and Venue, Kia’s Seltos, Maruti’s Brezza and Ertiga, Mahindra’s Bolero, and even the Rs 1 crore-plus Mercedes-Benz GLS have been among those powering the SUV surge.
The craze for SUVs has been phenomenal despite the general pessimistic sentiment. “We had more demand than what we could produce for models such as the Brezza,” Shashank Srivastava, director (sales & marketing) at Maruti Suzuki, told TOI.
Hyundai has also been witnessing a surge for models such as the Creta which was launched in a new avatar just before the outbreak of corona in India in March. “People want SUVs and so we are launching new models in this category. SUVs remain a key focus for us,” Tarun Garg, director at Hyundai India, said.
Even in the luxury segment, the demand has been more than encouraging when it comes to SUVs, something evident in the strong numbers for Mercedes-Benz GLS and GLE models. “Indian customers have a penchant for SUVs… (and they) comprise a key pillar of our product offensive. Currently, our SUV portfolio drives a majority of our sales volumes,” Santosh Iyer, VP (sales & marketing), said.
Ravi Bhatia, India president of data analytics company JATO Dynamics, said that consumer preference has moved away from low-slung hatchbacks and sedans to the SUV body style. “There are two clear categories emerging. First, are the ‘true SUVs’ with 4X4 capabilities and large cargo space and rugged go anywhere vehicles. These are category image drivers but tend to be expensive. But the real (volume) growth is coming from crossover car-like SUVs which are small and compact, but have the upright seating stance, muscular looks and pack a ton of technology.”



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