Maruti Suzuki India has decided to phase out its premium crossover vehicle, S-Cross, the first product to be retailed through its premium sales outlet – Nexa – way back in 2015.
According to sources, the company would, in its place, come out with a new sports utility vehicle codenamed YFG, which it is co-developing with Toyota (codenamed D22). The new SUV would compete with Hyundai’s hugely successful Creta.
In the last seven years, S-Cross has sold merely 165,000 units, at an average of about 2,000 units per month. In comparison, Hyundai launched the Creta around the same time and has sold about 700,000 units ― at over 8,000 units per month.
When contacted, Maruti Suzuki neither confirmed, nor denied the development. Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director, marketing and sales, told FE that the S-Cross is the carmaker’s flagship model and holds an indispensable position in the Nexa portfolio.
“It is appreciated for its striking exteriors, elegant interiors and a strong road presence. The S-Cross offers a powerful drive experience with refined performance. This is complemented by a dominating and authoritative design language along with feature-rich interiors,” he said.
“We have sold over 165,000 units of the S-Cross so far and thank our customers for their continued support. We would not be able to give any guidance with respect to the stopping of S-Cross production or the introduction of a new model.”
The S-Cross was the first Maruti Suzuki vehicle offered with only diesel engine options. It, however, didn’t have an automatic gearbox, a feature that customers of premium cars had started valuing. The Creta offered that.
In September 2017, after having sold merely 64,000 units in a little over two years, the S-Cross got a facelift ― cosmetic changes in and out as well as a mild-hybrid system that increased the fuel efficiency.
But the 1.6-litre engine was discontinued due to poor demand.
On August 5, 2020, Maruti Suzuki launched the S-Cross only in petrol. This was because the company decided to move out of diesel engines with the implementation of BS VI emission norms, which came into effect from April 1, 2020.
The company then gave S-Cross a brand new identity by promoting it as the ‘the refined SUV’. But even this image change from ‘the premium crossover’ to ‘the refined SUV’ couldn’t boost sales.
An industry veteran who has worked with Maruti Suzuki and later with another Japanese carmaker in India told FE that the S-Cross didn’t have a clear brand identity.
“It confused the buyer. How will you describe the S-Cross? At least when a person went to buy the Creta, she knew she was buying an SUV. But the S-Cross was neither here, nor there. A company should be clear what its product stands for and who is the customer,” he said. “In addition, intense competition meant the S-Cross couldn’t even find its feet properly.”
A Maruti insider said that the upcoming YFG is being touted as the Creta-killer and is likely to be launched during the festive season this calendar year. It would be manufactured at Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s plant in Bidadi near Bengaluru.
Toyota’s version of the YFG (codenamed D22) will also be launched around the same time.
Both these SUVs would be powered by strong hybrid petrol engine technology from Toyota, and Maruti Suzuki will sell the YFG via the Nexa sales channel.