15 new SUVs waiting to hit Indian roads in 2012

Monday 13 February 2012, 10:54 AM by

India will see the launch of a total of 15 new Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in 2012, with almost all auto majors lining up one or more vehicles to gain supremacy in this segment. The SUV and MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) segment accounts for 15 per cent of the domestic passenger vehicle market, though this number is expected to rise to 25 per cent by 2015.

According to Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager (Marketing), Maruti Suzuki India, "The demand for SUVs in India is on the rise. As this segment has immense growth potential, almost all automakers are trying to tap it." He continued, "We are not present in 15 per cent of the market, which comprises SUVs and (multipurpose vehicles) MPVs. We displayed those cars in the auto expo (in New Delhi last month). Hopefully, we will introduce them in the market, which will add to our volumes." The biggest car maker of the country is presently working on the production model of XA Alpha, the SUV it displayed at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo in January.

Most car manufacturers operating in India are targeting this booming segment, with the likes of Hyundai, Ford, Renault and Mahindra setting the pace for 2012 with a vast line-up of SUVs and MPVs. Nissan, which entered the exponentially growing domestic car market only recently, is planning to launch two SUVs in the sub-Rs. 10 lac segment. Its Duster SUV has attracted attention from all quarters of the Indian auto market much before its launch.

Among domestic car makers, Tata Motors has unveiled Safari Storme, the updated edition of its popular Safari SUV. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) enjoys the position of the leader of this segment, with an enviable line-up that includes cars like Scorpio, Thar and the immensely popular XUV 500. It is currently looking for a site to establish a production unit for Ssangyong, its South Korean subsidiary, for assembling SUVs like Rexton and Korando C with 2.0 L diesel engine. Both the cars were displayed at M&M's stall at the Delhi Expo.

Experts believe that pricing will be essential in deciding the market prospects of the SUVs waiting to hit Indian roads. President and Managing Director of Ford India, Michael Boneha, said, "There is much scope for growth in this segment. Despite the competition, it is the right pricing and performance that will decide the fate of new models." The American manufacturer already has a SUV, Endeavour, in the domestic market for quite some time.

Ford India is looking forward to rolling out its 5 seater SUV, named EcoSport, in India; the model was received warmly in the Brazilian market, where it has already been rolled out. The SUV, which was also showcased at the Delhi Expo in January, will arrive in India in petrol and diesel variants. The unique petrol and diesel EcoBoost engines of the car render enviable mileage of 18-20 kmpl and 23 kmpl, respectively.

Notably, car makers are worried about the increase in taxes on diesel cars, rather than the competition in the market. Due to the expected 10 per cent increase in duty on diesel-powered passenger cars, most manufacturers have put plans to roll out new SUVs on hold. It is anticipated that additional taxes will be levied on diesel SUVs, worsening the situations for these car companies.