2013 is going to be a year of several important launches in the Utility Vehicle (UV) segment of the Indian auto market. The domestic buyers are eagerly awaiting the launch of the new Ford EcoSport, which is expected to be launched sometime in June 2013. Similarly, UV leader Mahindra & Mahindra is developing a compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and six other UVs to be positioned in the compact segment.
Top auto companies have noticed that there has been tremendous growth in the UV segment during the previous fiscal. If these vehicles would not have sold well, passenger vehicles would definitely have reported negative growth. Customer preferences have shifted towards the UV segment during the past year, especially the compact SUV segment that took off with the launch of Renault Duster. Current vehicles in this segment include the Duster, Premier Rio, Mahindra Quanto and the soon-to-be-launched Ford EcoSport. Even Maruti Suzuki is expected to launch its revolutionary new compact SUV, christened as XA-Alpha, which was first revealed at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo. Usually the vehicles in this segment are priced between Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh.
In the premium SUV segment, Fiat India is expected to roll out the Jeep range, in partnership with Chrysler. Two vehicles will also be launched by Nissan in this segment and one each will be launched by Maruti Suzuki and the Indian arms of Honda, Renault and Ford. Speaking on the future of this segment, Fiat India Managing Director Enrico Atanasio said, “There is wide space available in a big market like India and it is pretty obvious that the new models in the UV space will attract customers from other segments. From the Fiat stable, we are looking at a B-segment SUV and from the iconic Jeep stable, we will play across the B and C segments and CBUs.”
Industry experts believe that due to the competitive pricing, vehicles from the UV segment are also eating into the share of entry level and premium sedans. But manufacturers are not complaining, since they have risen by over 54 per cent to 0.5 million units during the current fiscal.