SUVs are a trend in India but are these truly SUVs? Do people actually want Sports Utility vehicles or is there some different requirement behind this? In this article, we are going to find out why SUVs are a trend in India.
What is an SUV?
A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive. There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV, and usage of the term varies between countries. Now if you take this definition and apply it to most of the vehicles that claim to be SUVs then a lot of may not qualify. Most of the vehicle that claims to be SUVs are front-wheel drive vehicles. But that’s the old-school thinking of what the car should be like. According to purists, they should also have four wheel drive and a ladder on frame chassis. But today only high ground clearance and a tall/boxy body design really matter to customers who primarily want such a car for it’s size and space.
SUV as a marketing term
The word sports and SUV are both great for making a product look good. Indian buying behavior is very different from other countries and a lot of buying happens based on emotion. There is the value for money aspect but along with that people want a product that they can brag about. For a long time, true SUVs have been expensive and a lot of buyers had to settle for premium sedans or hatchbacks. So when manufacturers brought in cars that look like bigger SUVs and called them SUVs they become the dream car for a lot of second-time buyers.
Indian Car requirements
Due to bad Indian roads, a lot of car buyers prefer cars with good ground clearance. Also, the feeling of space is important and manufacturers provide this by offering good headroom. To give the car a better ride more comfortable suspension setup is provided. In many cases there is no significant change in the platform or drive train to make it more sporty. Of course, it does become more usable and practical for the buyer. Enhancements of body proportions, comfort and space are very important. Someone who really needs a car for a lot of off-roading will buy a more purposeful vehicle.
SUVs have become a trend because they are a win-win for both – OEMs and buyers. To make a small SUV the framework of a hatchback works. A manufacturer can add all the above mentioned on a hatchback and make it look like a car. This results in a bigger footprint which translates into a good road presence. Also, the taller seating position makes driving easy. Lastly, you can manage all this within a sub- four metre body and end up having tax benefits. This appeals to not only new buyers in the market but also to existing sedan buyers who want to upgrade. They do miss out on great boot space but the driving dynamics are so easy and comfortable that the switch becomes inevitable. Lastly because of this high demand for SUVs they have a good resale. So a lot of buyers looks at SUVs as a usable investment. So even when they buy a Rs 18 lakh car which they plan to sell after 5 years, they are assured of Rs 8 to 10 lakhs as a resale value. So, in reality, they have spent only 5 to 8 lakh on a bigger car.
The proof is in the pudding. For manufacturers like Hyundai, their best selling car is the Creta. Many brands like Tata, Renault, Kia and Nissan have in recent times relied on their compact SUVs and C segment SUVs to get volumes for the brand. Also, brands like Skoda and Volkswagen are getting SUVs especially made for the Indian market. Also old school SUVs like the Thar have also made a comeback. So they are here to stay and are just going to get bigger and better.
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