Indian car buyers are turning to SUVs and high-tech features

India’s romance with SUVs is growing faster and faster and automakers are fueling the affair even further, having launched 36 such models in the past five years.

Such is the current SUV craze that wait times for some of the most popular models stretch over two years and new orders keep pouring in.

Car buyers are now willing to spend more on their personal mode of transportation and prefer higher-end variants with features such as sunroof and connected technologies.

In a market where hatchbacks dominated the sales charts, it is entry-level and mid-size sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that are gaining popularity, driving more and more product launches in the segment.

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“The SUV segment has seen major growth over the past few years. The contribution of the SUV segment, which represented around 19% of the industry, has now increased to 40% in 2021-22 and we see it increasing further. Maruti Suzuki India, Senior Executive Director (Sales and Marketing), Shashank Srivastava, told PTI.

One of the reasons for the growth of this segment has been customers’ taste for vehicles with an elevated stance and visibility on the road, he added.

With increasing demand, the entry-level SUV segment has become the largest in the domestic passenger vehicle market over the past fiscal year, overtaking the premium sedan vertical segment that has dominated the market since 2011. .

Out of 30.68 lakh volumes last year, the share of entry-level SUVs stood at 6.52 lakh units.

It’s also no surprise that the peak number of model launches over the past five years in the entire passenger vehicle segment has been in the compact and mid-level SUV space.

“Additionally, new millennials prefer to buy premium variants equipped with several comfort and convenience features. The preference for feature-equipped cars has increased from 17% in 2016-17 to 24% in 2021-22 In some of our models, like the recently unveiled Breeza, top variants account for 70% of bookings,” noted Srivastava.

Studies show spending will increase further now and people are willing to spend more, he said.

Tata Motors General Manager of Passenger Vehicles, Shailesh Chandra, said differentiated design, changing lifestyles, the shift from public transport to personal transport as a result of the pandemic, growing awareness of the characteristics of safety and convenience, among others, are some of the factors driving the growth in the passenger vehicle market.

“Today’s customers know exactly what they want and we constantly strive to provide them with the same through our range, which is renewed at short intervals, whether in terms of features, variants or new products,” he said.

Chandra said the company’s strong comeback in FY21, recapturing the third position by volume and as a challenger brand, was driven by unleashing the full potential of the new car line. and SUVs, which were developed after in-depth market research. and understand changing customer needs.

Kia India Sales Director Myung-sik Sohn said the growing demand for SUVs among Indian customers clearly shows a strong preference for bold and stylish vehicles with a high stance.

“We launched the Carens earlier this year and have already sold over 30,000 units in less than five months,” he added.

Another trend the company is seeing is more customers buying the premium variants of the cars, Sohn noted. “In fact, 47% of the total Kia sold in India are premium versions, showing that today’s customers demand nothing but the best.”

Customers today want connected features in their cars and Kia now has more than two lakh connected cars on Indian roads with an activation rate of 97%, Sohn said.

Additionally, the modern digital savvy customer is increasingly looking for the full experience of owning a car with minimal physical contact, he added.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s Associate Vice President (Sales and Strategic Marketing), Atul Sood, said the rapid pace of urbanization and economic development is contributing to the demand for SUVs.

There are a number of models already available in the segment in response to demand, making SUVs one of the strongest ranges in the automotive market today, he pointed out.

Sood noted that new product launches and refreshes always generate excitement and increased interest among customers.

“At Toyota, we’ve had an overwhelming response for all of our new offerings, including the new Camry Hybrid and the new Glanza,” he said.

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