While the small cars in India are hogging all the attention of the car manufacturers and car buyers, there is another segment that is making a quiet but quick progress. Yes, we have seen multiple small car launches in the past one year but, in stark contrast to our notion, SUVs are not sulking either. The SUV segment in India has already started its journey towards a bright future and it would not be very long till it sets the sales chart on fire.
About a decade ago, things were real easy for SUV makers like Mahindra (with Scorpio, Bolero), Toyota Qualis and Tata Motors (Safari, Sumo). But in the recent past, international hunters have taken notice of this potent segment and launched new models of SUVs. Most of the global car manufacturers in India have at least one SUV in their inventory. And Indian car buyers are grabbing the opportunity to acquire the new vehicles, with a result that the companies either stop the bookings or launch new models.
Every other car maker wants to grab the lion’s share in the SUV segment in India and Mahindra and Mahindra has outlined a massive investment outlay of Rs. 5,000-crore from FY 09 to FY 12. M&M already has a very comprehensive fleet of SUVs and it will bring another one, an all new premium SUV from its Chakan plant, to strengthen its dominance in the Indian SUV segment. The naming ceremony of the new SUV has not been done yet, and likely it will be rolled out by the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. The World SUV has been in the focus for quite some time now, and is estimated to have a tag of Rs. 10 lakh and above. While it will try to lure the buyers in international markets, it will try its luck in India.
Dr Pawan Goenka, president – Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra, said, “We will be launching the vehicle by 2011-end or a year later. The new SUV, which is in the R&D stage, will be ‘more premium’ than the company’s current offering of Scorpio”.
So, is M&M the only one who has got a whiff of the upcoming boom in the SUV segment? The answer is, no. There is another Indian car maker which is preparing itself for the SUV storm. Tata Motors has been rumoured to bring in the all-new Safari by next year, and the Aria cross-over may see an early 2011 launch too. The details regarding the new Safari are quite sketchy as of now and a few magazines have claimed that it will be based on the Aria platform.
The all new Safari will also boast of advance features like ABS, Airbags and Climate Control. We can very safely speculate that Tata will fit the 2.2L VTT DiCOR engine in the new Safari. The SUV has been made to comply with the EuroNCAP safety norms, since Tata Motors want to taste a bit of the European market too.
Well, the story does not quite end there. We have now Force Motors also which wants to enter the SUV market. And that will likely happen either late in 2010 or early 2011. The company will roll out the SUV from its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh. Built on a completely new platform, the SUV will come with a price tag of Rs 10 – 15 lakh.
“A substantial part of the vehicle has been developed in-house using indigenous expertise. We are targeting the final months of this [calendar] year, or the early months of next year,” Force Motors‘ managing director Prasan Firodia said.