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By Avik Chattopadhyay Ford has resolved to axe the Mondeo in favour of a new

By Avik Chattopadhyay

Ford has resolved to axe the Mondeo in favour of a new SUV for Europe. VW has thrown in its past gamble in the Indian marketplace with the “SUVW” strategy of four SUVs in the portfolio. Skoda is overhauling its portfolio with new SUVs. Maruti Suzuki may eventually carry a 4-doorway version of the Jimny. Toyota has rebadged Vitara Brezza as Urban Cruiser to present a less expensive SUV in its showrooms. Citroen ways on to the Indian roadways for the 1st time with the C5 Aircross. Mahindra announces a slew of new SUVs to remain related to tomorrow’s shoppers.

Listed here an SUV, there an SUV, all over the place an SUV! Would seem that the old McDonald’s farm has almost nothing but SUVs. But this phenomenon is not uniquely Indian. What was when limited to specific markets like the US, Russia and Australia thanks a lot more to application than just a style assertion has now blossomed into a extremely progressed and segmented automobile group. Practically all automakers, throughout the price tag and positioning spectrum, have been investing a major part of their R&D budgets in churning out a lot more SUVs, be they diesel, electrical or hydrogen.

UV is not a new phenomenon and it did not start out with the Land Rover Defender of 1948. That was preceded by the Russian GAZ-61 by ten years. Some may perhaps issue out that the Japanese TokyuKurogane Sort 95 came out in 1936, but then it was purely for army application.

Even though there is no one globally accepted definition for Activity Utility Motor vehicle (SUV), the automobile credited with utilizing this expression for the 1st time in its promoting was the 1984 Jeep Cherokee XJ. And that opened the floodgates of a new overall body-type all throughout the US which has now firmly set up its subsequent in each and every region on this earth!

India has had its legacy of UVs beginning from the Willy’s Jeep in the mid-40s, traversing through the Jeep Stationwagon, the Mahindra Commander and Bolero, the Tata Sierra and Safari to the Kia Seltos and Sonet now. The reputation of the overall body-type is so prevalent that three world brands, MG, Kia and Citroen, have resolved to enter the Indian marketplace with an SUV-1st technique. A different a single, GWM’s Haval, is waiting around on the sidelines!

SUV, SUV all over the place!

I will expend some time on the sales figures from April 2020 to February 2021 to create this phenomenon. Intellect you, this was a awful time period for automobile sales and nevertheless we do see a ‘revival’ from September, there is a extended winding street till we are out of the woods.

In a time period when the overall passenger automobile marketplace has shrunk by 10% above 2019-20 (which alone was a dampener), the SUV sales were being the only bright place, growing by near to two% above the exact time period in the previous calendar year!

When we see the March 2021 figures, to be shared by the Modern society of Indian Automobile Producers (SIAM) anytime now, the narrative will get confirmed.

So, what truly constitutes the “UV” group? It extends suitable from the compact utility vehicles, which are a lot less than 4m extended, to the comprehensive-blooded Four wheel drive off-roading mammoth. Let us get a closer seem at how the figures stack up for numerous forms of UVs as labeled by SIAM.


Looking at the names of the vehicles mentioned towards every single group gives a good concept of the style of UV, in sizing, electricity and capabilities. I have intentionally supplied the automobile groups every single UV group cannibalises, as the overall marketplace pie is not growing while the share of UVs is. The most important casualty is the standard sedan…that image of tasteful status that each and every upwardly mobile aspired for till the transform of the millennium.

Why do Indians love SUV?

Not for the off-roading, foolish! We love the overall body-type. The UVC is almost nothing but hatchbacks on steroids. The UV1 is also the exact sedan platform with the top hat of an SUV.

The primary factors for this new-observed love are:

  • The superior seating gives a ‘commanding’ look at of the street, practically like you are sitting down on a throne while the plebians in the decreased vehicles go by under you this is your chariot on tyres!
  • For the lady drivers, it is a certain feeling of larger safety as the massive shape appears a lot more intimidating than a hatch or sedan.
  • The greater ground clearance is a reassurance that you will counter the potholes as perfectly as velocity breakers with no significantly trepidation. Nonetheless, supplied the way SUV homeowners have a tendency to even prevent pools of drinking water in the monsoons, a single would have imagined if not!
  • Appears masculine and brawny enough…in fact, the a lot more, the much better those that attempted going towards this craze perished soon.
  • The ‘mono volume inside allows a feeling of a lot more place, particularly if you have a sunroof, and also offers a lot more practicality in accessing the rear storage place.

These factors are not much too various from those in most other markets like China, Brazil, Germany or Gabon, irrespective of the quality of roadways and social equations of status and electricity.

So, automakers in India have absent about re-jigging their product portfolios above the past ten years to present a lot more SUV-styled vehicles, which include some at the entry stage like the S-presso, Kwid and Redi-go! Let us get a seem at the growing share of UVs in some foremost brands in India vis-à-vis cars.


Except for Maruti Suzuki, which caters mostly to the entry stage, all the other individuals have UVs earning up at least a single-3rd of their sales.

In fact, there are 6 brands that function in India only with UVs in their portfolio – Stellantis (Jeep), Mahindra, Force, MG, Kia and Isuzu!

Is SUV a ticket to results?

In order to get the drift, I will go again to the periods when LED TVs and smartphones burst on the Indian marketplace. In both equally the groups, brands mushroomed all about, either as offerings from the present players or from completely new kinds getting into the product group for the 1st time. Once the dust of the product euphoria settled down, only the ‘strongest’ remained, when once again proving Darwin suitable. The toughness did not lie in mere sizing or know-how, but in relevance, buyer being familiar with and services orientation.

I will cite 7 specific factors, with some authentic-world illustrations, to generate household my impression that just featuring an SUV is not a ticket to results in this marketplace.

Been there, completed that. Nah!

Just since I have been in the automobile small business for years and am a marketplace chief does not promise that my SUVs will be accepted as perfectly. Try to remember Nokia? From getting the include story of Forbes in 2007 on getting unstoppable, the marketplace chief was wiped out in a lot less than 10 years! View out Maruti Suzuki…are you getting just much too sluggish in the SUV race?

Forbes November 2007 include

I have been productive in other places. Seriously?

That logic must have applied to other overall body-designs much too when they were being a lot more well-liked. Sony, Panasonic and LG are big names in other smartphone markets but have bombed in India. Do not get the Indian marketplace as a mere follower of developments in other places.

I am “premium”. Big deal!

So was Opel, Sony Ericsson and Blackberry. Remaining top quality does not imply charging a lot more but getting recognised as a single by the buyer. If Zara starts off giving discounts from week three of its existence in India, it is not viewed as to be important more than enough. If individuals pick out a Fortuner or Endeavour above an X1 or a Q3 even with their discounts, there is a lot more to what the buyer appears for than just getting a self-declared top quality.

I present marvelous value. Not more than enough!

So were being Micromax, Intex, Lava and Karbonn as smartphones. We shunned them for Mi, Redmi, Oppo and Vivo. Just obtaining the exact options as other individuals at a a lot less price tag issue makes a brand susceptible to technologies evolution and obsolescence. The ownership lifecycle plays a significantly more robust purpose below. Lesson for Nissan?

Ideal segment. Wrong product

One particular of the factors for liking the SUV is its masculine appears. If you test bringing in a product that appears ‘sissy’, it will not do the job, nevertheless massive a identify you may perhaps be. The S-cross is a residing instance. The Kaptur is a dying a single. Hope Honda has learnt.

I am “Indian”. So what?

That card does not hold drinking water any more. The client would like the best of the world. Therefore, he/she dumped Micromax, Lava, Intex or Karbonn for Mi, Redmi, Oppo or Vivo. As an Indian brand, you have to be truly world-class to be aspirational. Glimpse really hard Mahindra…

My cousin is the exact automobile

Weak justification! The case of Duster and Terrano is an instance to generate household this truth of the matter. Just since a single operates, the other need to have not, particularly as the ‘other’ has no reason to exist apart from for getting a substitute when the ‘one’ is not accessible. Pointer to Skoda and VW?

The bottom line

SUV is not a “fad” that will fade away like specific style developments. The product featuring rests on sturdy fundamentals utilizing a blend of emotional and functional factors. It will see attempts at earning the overall body-type seem slicker and sportier as we see in the top quality and luxurious brands like Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. The ‘perfect’ shape is not there as however, but it is just a make any difference of time. Also, this does not imply that the classic hatch and sedan will wither away. They shall go on to delight in a loyal subsequent, and an SUV will not be capable to get away the magnificence and proportions of a sedan anytime. They shall all co-exist, with the SUV overall body-type getting to be the predominant player…by very some length!

(The writer is co-creator of Expereal India. Also, he is former head of promoting, product organizing and PR at Volkswagen India.)

(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the writer and ETAuto.com does not always subscribe to it. ETAuto.com shall not be liable for any damage prompted to any particular person/organisation specifically or indirectly.)