Mainly seen as giant polluters, SUVs now account for one out of every four new vehicles sold in India. Data for vehicle sales released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers shows the growing clout of SUVs and utility vehicles when it comes to new purchases, a trend that seems to be getting stronger with each passing year.
With a 14 per cent share in the overall passenger vehicle sales at the end of March 2010, it has hit 25 per cent at the end of March this year. The trend is only going to get stronger in the coming years, given new model launches. The pace of growth in the demand for SUVs, where diesel is the preferred engine option, has been nothing short of spectacular. SUV sales shot up by 30 per cent in 2016-17, remarkable as compared to the 4 per cent growth in car sales. “SUVs are a global trend and very much liked in India as well. The large and varied spread of the country, with strong challenges when it comes to road infrastructure, makes them a necessity when one wants a stronger, safer, and high-seating vehicle,” said Rakesh Srivastava, Senior VP at Hyundai India.
“This trend will continue and I feel that the share of SUVs will rise to nearly 30 per cent over the next one year.” While there has been a strong rise in the compact SUV segment, an equally robust buyer pull has been there in the bigger segments for vehicles such as Hyundai's Creta. Going by the price point, the relatively higher-priced Toyota Innova Crysta has been a strong success, selling over 75,000 vehicles in under a year of its launch. In the luxury space, companies like Mercedes-Benz have seen a good demand for models such as the GLC and GLE SUVs, something that has resulted in off-roaders contributing to 40 per cent to the company's overall sales in 2016-17 against 30 per cent in the previous year.