While Hyundai Motor India and Kia Motors India together may not be able to beat Maruti Suzuki India in monthly sales of passenger vehicles (PVs) in the foreseeable future, as they were able to do in May 2021, the two together may be able to maintain the lead in the sports utility vehicle segment given that the Koreans have a strong portfolio here.
In May 2021, as per data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), Maruti Suzuki sold 32,903 PVs, while Hyundai sold 25,001 units and Kia sold 11,050 units (total Hyundai and Kia 36,051 units).
However, if one counts only UVs, Maruti Suzuki sold just 6,355 units, while Hyundai sold 13,808 units and Kia sold 11,050 units (total 24,858), clearly showcasing Korean carmakers’ strength in this growing sub-segment of PVs.
While the Koreans may not be able to maintain overall PV lead over Maruti Suzuki — May was different because Maruti Suzuki had gone into a plant shutdown due to Covid-19 second wave earlier than Hyundai did, and the former has a good portfolio of entry-level PVs that sell in relatively larger numbers — in UVs they have an edge.
With Friday’s launch of the Alcazar, the Hyundai duo now has eight UVs in its portfolio (Hyundai’s Alcazar, Creta, Venue, Kona EV and Tucson, and Kia’s Sonet, Seltos and Carnival). Maruti Suzuki, on the other hand, has just four (Ertiga, XL6, S-Cross and Vitara Brezza).
As far as only SUVs are concerned, in the first five months of CY2021, 4,67,771 SUVs were sold in India; of these, Hyundai had a one-fourth share with 1,09,172 units (57,342 units of the Creta and about 50,000 units of the Venue). Tarun Garg, director, sales & marketing, Hyundai Motor India, told FE that after the launch of the Creta in 2015 the carmaker’s share in the SUV segment has been rising — from 11.3% in 2015, to 22.7% in 2019, and 25.5% in 2020.
The share of SUVs within the PV segment has also been rising over the years. According to industry sources, while in CY2015 SUVs contributed 13.5% to PV sales, in 2019 this share rose to 25.6%, and 29% in 2020. “In the first five months of this calendar year, this share has further risen to 35%,” Garg said.
Automotive analysts said SUVs have crowded out other body types. Rajeev Singh, partner & automotive leader, Deloitte India, told FE that an SUV looks more muscular, and offers more cabin space as compared to a similarly-sized sedan. “Indian consumer puts a premium to the space inside a car; she has also realised that SUVs are better suited to Indian road conditions (which are a work in progress), because these have higher ground clearance,” he said.
While entry-level SUVs and midsize five-seat SUVs are already popular, Indian carmakers are now exploring a new territory—the midsize six- and seven-seat SUV space. Earlier this year Tata launched the Safari, Hyundai has launched the Alcazar, and later this year Mahindra will bring the XUV 700. Maruti Suzuki is also expected to enter this space next year. “Our market research suggests that customers are really looking for SUVs this shape and size,” said Garg.
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