The battle in the fast-growing compact-SUV segment is about to get more intense. Volkswagen India, which sees itself as an “accessible premium” car brand in India, is planning to enter the segment with its yet-to-be launched T-Cross model, sources privy to the information said. The source confirmed that the car is currently being tested on Indian roads, and that feasibility tests are being run to see if it would be a good fit for the Indian market. This is the only SUV that is being tested currently for the domestic market. If the model comes to India, it will compete with the fast-selling Hyundai Creta and the Renault Captur in the fast-expanding compact-SUV segment. The T-Cross is based on the company’s MQB platform, and is the smallest SUV in the auto major’s portfolio. It is slated for a global launch in 2018, but there was no clarity till now whether it would be introduced in India.
The German car maker plans to double its market share in the passenger vehicle segment in India to 3% in five years. According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), in the April-November period of this fiscal, the company held a little less than 1.5% share of the passenger vehicle market.
The German car maker is hard at work to improve sales in India, a country dominated by the sub-four-meter vehicles. A year back, the company also launched a compact sedan exclusively for the Indian market, the Ameo. The Ameo has helped improve the automaker’s volumes by filling a demand gap in its portfolio — that of an affordable sedan.
Steffen Knapp, Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, says in revenue terms, India is a very small market for the auto major, but that is about to change very soon. He says apart from the compact car segment, the company is also focusing on the SUV space, especially the compact SUVs. He said, “SUV is one of the fastest growing segments, with the Brezza, Creta and all such models. That is an interesting segment and we are looking at it closely.”
With a strong focus on the SUV segment in India, he said the iconic Volkswagen Golf would not see an India launch anytime soon. “India is not yet ready for a car like the Golf. The Indian market does not have any such car yet, and we want to be very sure about its success before launching it for the Indian roads,” he said.
Meanwhile, the company has not drawn up plans for an electric car launch in India anytime soon. Knapp cites steep prices and lack of charging infrastructure as the biggest reasons and only expects any entry into the segment once the infrastructure is in place.