Compact SUVs the way to go for auto makers

WU staff | News | June 28, 2013
Compact SUVs the way to go for auto makers

American auto maker Ford has finally launched the much awaited compact SUV EcoSport amidst great fanfare and the pricing from Ford seems to have caught everyone by surprise. Going by the success of French car maker Renault’s compact SUV Duster, Ford might finally have a blockbuster product in their hands and in turn help the struggling domestic auto market.

Compact SUVs or the Crossovers or `Soft Roaders’ as they are called in comparison with their big muscled SUV siblings seem to be the flavour of the season. While small cars and the option of having a diesel power plant in the line-up is still essential for the auto makers to gain volume, it also seems that compact SUVs might be another fast selling segment in the days to come.

While launching the Ford EcoSport, Ford India President and MD Joginder Singh stated that small utility vehicles are the fastest growing segment in the world. He mentioned that from 2005 till 2012, the segment has seen a 150% growth and he sensed that the sales will grow five folds by 2020.

While India has been witnessing the compact SUV growth, Ford’s President and CEO Alan Mulally, who had come to India recently, had stated that India might become a compact SUV hub. He was quoted as saying "Who would have ever taught that the small SUV would be the fastest growing segment in India? India is a great market and is the lead edge indicator as to what people want in the world."

It is interesting in the sense that small cars, specifically hatchbacks have ruled the Indian passenger car market for so long; it is a revelation of sorts that the compact SUV segment has been the most growing in recent times.

Here we give a lowdown on the proposed slew of compact SUVs that will flood our market soon.

Nissan Terrano:

  • Earlier this month, The Japanese car maker Nissan which has an alliance with French car maker Renault had announced its compact SUV Nissan Terrano and had also revealed a sketch of the new model. The compact SUV is slated to hit the market later this year. The SUV is supposed to be a cross-badged Duster with a little premium feel in looks and interiors. The Terrano, to be produced at Nissan’s Oragadam plant near Chennnai, may be priced higher than competition

Maruti Suzuki XA Alpha:

  • India’s largest passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) is also now forced to enter the segment and has already launched an UV product with Ertiga. Maruti, a predominantly a small car maker, is working on the `XA Alpha’, the concept utility vehicle it had showcased in the Delhi Auto Expo. It has not announced timelines for its launch.

M&M S101:

  • Mahindra & Mahindra dominates the SUV market in the country.  M&M which has a slew of utility vehicles is reportedly working on a compact SUV known internally as the new `S101’. It is likely to launch the S101 with the same three-cylinder 98bhp 1500cc engine that powers the Quanto. The Quanto has been a runaway success, but can it sustain its dominance with new models?

Tata Motors Compact SUV:

  • Tata Motors has been witnessing sales decline for some time despite the product tweaks and heavy discounts. While the auto maker has already announced its refreshed line up of vehicles including the CNG emax range for three of its vehicles, what could really boost sales for them could be a well-designed and well-priced compact SUV. The company was working on a compact SUV probably based on the Indica's X1 platform. Recently, in a presentation, Tata Motors MD Karl Slym had mentioned that they are planning to add new products. "We have a product portfolio plan through to 2020," he had said. He also stated "We don't play in a couple of segments which have shown growth. We don't have a soft roader SUV." With one of the world’s most popular SUV brand Range Rover in its kitty, Tata could well make use of the brand to bring out new product.

Hyundai Compact SUV:

  • The South Korean auto maker, the second largest passenger car maker in India is also joining the bandwagon of Compact SUVs. Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) Managing Director and CEO Bo Shin Seo has been quoted as saying "Compact SUV is a very lucrative segment India. I think we are a bit late but we are developing a compact SUV to be launched soon."  There are various spy pics of the rumoured compact SUV already being tested abroad and if the spy photos are anything to go by, the compact SUV will be a head turner for sure.

Honda Compact SUV:

  • The Japanese car maker Honda has been playing the catch-up game in India for some time now. First, they were behind other auto makers into the small car market and later to introduce the diesel engine powered vehicles. But Honda has made amends for both of that and is now consistently raking up sales. Now apart from the re-introduction of Jazz and an MPV, Honda is also planning to launch a compact SUV and knowing Honda, the vehicle could have a lot of potential customers.

Fiat-Jeep Compact SUV:

  • The Italian auto major Fiat has been among the handful of auto makers who have struggled to make mark in Indian auto market. The company which has gone solo now will be more interested in bringing its Jeep branded SUVs to India to make an impact. Fiat has already announced that they will be bringing four Jeep products through Chrysler in a couple of years along with their Fiat products. Reports have stated that India will be the first country to play host to the 2014 Jeep Compact SUV in B-Segment. According to unconfirmed reports, the compact SUV will be made at Fiat’s facility at Pune. A Jeep branded compact SUV with competitive pricing could be the product that would help Fiat’s cause in India.
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