Petrol-run Sports Utility Vehicles on the brink of extinction in India
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Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) must have been doing good business over the last few years in the Indian auto market. However, older players like Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara cannot be spotted on roads any more because of the hike in petrol prices and new launches of diesel SUVs. Petrol Multi Utility Vehicles (MUVs) witnessed a record low in terms of sales, despite the SUV being fastest growing segment in the market.
The sales of Honda CR-V plummeted to just 38 units in April-May this year and this was the vehicle which dominated its respective segment five years back and registered sales of 200 units every month. Annual sales of the SUV have gone down to 319 vehicles, reported in last fiscal, which was a record low for the car. Similarly, Grand Vitara from the stables of Maruti Suzuki has been selling over 2,000 units until the car vanished from the market. The largest car maker in the country sold only 2 units of its Grand Vitara in Q1 of 2012 and in complete last fiscal mere 27 units of the same was sold.
Another product that the company abandoned was the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy, which was shelved due to a technical glitch after the car maker attempted to install the much acclaimed 1.3 litre multi-jet diesel unit in it. Following the league, Mitsubishi's Outlander too suffered the same fate and, thus, its sales declined 66 per cent amounting to 31 units in April and May 2012. In fiscal 2012, the same car maintained to register sales figures of 320 units.
As per the industry officials, the hike of over 50 per cent in petrol prices, coupled with lower torque and power specifications of petrol SUVs against the diesel counterparts has contributed to their expiry. The magnitude of the impact went to an extent that Mahindra & Mahindra, the largest UV maker with sales volume of over 1 lac units completely ditched petrol SUVs from its portfolio. According to a Senior Official of Mahindra, “We have phased out the Scorpio 2.5 Rev 116 petrol variant few years back. There were no demand or sales of these vehicles and now we only have diesel in our portfolio.”
To be precise, all the SUVs that were launched over past few years like Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Captiva, Ford Endeavour, Audi Q3 and Q5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, BMW X1 and X3 are all diesel powered.
Head, Audi India, Michael Perschke, said, “We never opted for petrol as the Indian market was shifting towards diesel-powered SUV that are zippy and hugely fuel efficient.” Notably, Audi India is the market leader in the luxury SUV segment of Indian automotive market. The entire initial batch of 500 of Audi Q3 was sold out within the first week of its launch.
Perschke added, “It's a tough decision to switch from economical cars to these expensive gas-guzzlers, but our new generation engines offering better mileage than any luxury cars, allowing people the fun of off-roading at the price of a sedan.”
During the last fiscal, the UV segment grew at the fastest rate with expansion of 16 per cent with the highest ever volume of 3.67 lac units. With several new launches lined-up for this year, MUVs are bound to increase their market share from nearly 14 per cent in fiscal 2012. What is more interesting is the fact that none of them are petrol-run, it is about time that we say sayonara to such cars.
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