Demand for SUVs and high-tech features is increasing among Indian car buyers

As Indian automakers have launched 36 models in the past five years, love for SUVs is growing among buyers.

Wait times for some of the most popular models stretch for more than two years, and new orders keep pouring in, which clearly proves the growing craze for SUVs in India.

High-end variants equipped with features such as sunroof and connected technologies are now preferred by car buyers who are willing to spend more on their personal mode of transportation.

Entry-level and mid-size sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are gaining popularity in a market where hatchbacks dominated the sales chart, leading to more product launches in the segment.

According to Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Sales and Marketing) of Maruti Suzuki India, the SUV segment has witnessed major growth over the past few years, with the contribution of the SUV segment increasing from around 19% to 40% in 2021- 22 and the percentage growth that is still increasing.

He further stated that customers’ taste for vehicles with high stance and visibility on the road is one of the major reasons for the growth of the SUV segment.

The entry-level SUV segment emerged as the largest in the domestic passenger vehicle market last fiscal year, driven by growing demand, overtaking the premium sedan vertical that has dominated the market since 2011.

Out of 30.68 lakh volumes last year, the share of entry-level SUVs stood at 6.52 lakh units.

Interestingly, the peak number of model launches over the past five years in the entire passenger vehicle segment has been in the compact and mid-level SUV space.

Stating that the preference for feature-equipped cars has risen from 17% in 2016-17 to 24% in 2021-22, Srivastava said new-age millennials prefer to buy premium variants equipped with multiple comfort features and convenience, adding that in recently unveiled models like Breeza, top variants account for 70% of total bookings.

Studies show spending would increase further now as people are now willing to spend more, he added.

Some of the factors driving the passenger vehicle market growth include differentiated design, changing lifestyles, shift from public to personal transportation as a result of the pandemic, growing awareness of safety and convenience, said Shailesh Chandra, general manager of passenger vehicles at Tata Motors. .

Automakers are constantly striving to provide buyers with exactly what they want through their lineup, which is refreshed at short intervals, Chandra said.

Chandra said that by introducing the full potential of the new range of cars and SUVs which have been developed after researching the market thoroughly and understanding changing customer needs, the company has made a comeback over the course of the year. 2021, taking back the third position in terms of volumes and being a challenger brand.

According to Kia India Sales Manager Myung-sik Sohn, the growing demand for SUVs among Indian customers clearly shows a strong preference for bold and stylish vehicles.

Saying that Kia launched Carens earlier this year, Sohn said more than 30,000 units have already been sold in less than five months.

Sohn noted that more and more customers are buying the premium variants of the cars, adding that 47 percent of the total Kia sold in India are premium versions, showing that customers today are looking for the best.

Stating that customers today want connection features in their cars, Sohn said Kia now has more than two lakh connected cars on Indian roads with an activation rate of 97%, adding that the customer aware of the Modern digital increasingly seeks the full experience of owning a car with minimal physical contact.

According to Atul Sood, Associate Vice President (Sales and Strategic Marketing) of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, the rapid pace of urbanization and economic development is contributing to the demand for SUVs.

He further pointed out that SUVs are one of the strongest ranges in the automotive market today with a good number of models already available in the segment in response to demand, adding that new product launches and refreshes promote excitement and increased customer interest.

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