SUVs started off their journey in India with the name of Jeep, wandering in some hilly areas of the country. With the entry of brands like Toyota and Mitsubishi and development of newer products like Safari and Scorpio by homegrown brands, SUVs became a symbol of authority and wealth in India. Hatchbacks have made it big in India ever since automobile revolution started in the country. With time the development in new product range brought sportier small cars which crossed the Rs. 4 lakh zone and got placed at newer pricing levels. While these premium hatchbacks have bloomed and have seen their fruits, there has been a shift towards newer body styles in recent times. Young executives who are interested in touring and adventure seeking have been looking for automobiles which suit their personality at work while not letting down their off-road driving passion. Automobile brands of today are turning their focus from the already saturated hatchback market towards these emerging trends to give a new beginning to the territory of SUVs in India.
Though there has been a change in what consumers are looking for, one factor remains almost the same when it comes to India. This factor is related to pricing of the automobiles where homegrown brands like Mahindra and Tata have natural advantage since they have been ruling SUV segment for generations. Responding to recent developments these marques have made full use of their advantage and have launched their classy SUVs, the Safari Storme and XUV500 at price range of Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 16 lakh. To combat this pricing strategy foreign brands have come up with a different idea where they try to address the requirements in a cost-effective manner. Thanks to their efforts, SUVs which once upon a time were known as large and mighty wagons, have changed their personality to come as compact and more elegant looking automobiles.
One of the first models to charge up the SUV arena in India was Duster, a compact SUV from French car maker, Renault. This car has changed the fortune of the manufacturer and has set a new benchmark for segment leaders like Bolero and Scorpio. Post the launch of this model there have been newer automobiles entering SUV segment carrying the price tag of Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 14 lakh. Quanto from Mahindra, the compact version of Xylo, is one such model which came out in 2012. Although the response for this car has not been as good as that for XUV500, it is doing a pretty decent job for the company being priced at Rs. 6 lakh for base model. While Duster has been ruling the market on one side bagging huge sales, the first worries for Renault recently came out in the form of EcoSport. This automobile from Ford is much sportier and dashing compared to the French car. Starting at a price of just Rs. 5.68 lakh, this compact SUV has disturbed premium hatchbacks and entry-level sedans like the Amaze – the car that created huge buzz in the country prior to launch of EcoSport. The demand for these small SUVs has forced auto makers like Nissan, Hyundai and Tata to work on automobiles for this segment. It is the versatility and comfort derived from these cars that has resulted in a shift towards SUVs in Indian market.