SUV is a term that has become a household name in the last 5-7 years. Even if you are not an automobile enthusiast, you ought to have noticed the growing presence of SUVs on the roads compared to just a decade ago. To be precise, this growing SUV trend is not just limited to the Indian automobile industry but is a global phenomenon. SUVs have taken the centre stage in almost every market due to various advantages over the traditional hatchbacks and sedans. The increase in the number of sub-segments under the SUV banner has also lead to the availability of some kind of SUV for just about anyone. While there are myriad reasons for the craze of SUVs, we shall try to encompass these within the following categories.
Practicality and Utility
First and foremost, the inherent quality that accompanies any SUV is its sheer size and practicality along with rugged built enhancing the utilitarian aspect. Generally, people are drawn to the massive size of an SUV because the customers in India prioritize the road presence of a car too much. Bigger, surely, means better in this case, and to some extent, they are not wrong. The mammoth size of the SUVs (especially compared to hatchbacks) lends itself so well to have the flexibility of additional passenger space or a huge luggage compartment. Not to mention, the undulations on the roads, which are not great in most parts of our country, are negotiated confidently and with relative ease if you are driving an SUV. SUVs can reach remote areas with relative ease and in such areas, mostly, people are not looking for modern sophisticated and feature-packed cars, but at utilitarian SUVs.
Another application of the SUVs which is of paramount importance to a whole bunch of people is the off-roading capabilities. The modern SUVs come with all sorts of new-age technology which enables them to literally go anywhere. There is simply too much hardware and equipment to propel an SUV over any sort of terrain. For instance, in case of large bumps on the dirt track, even if one of the wheels is on the ground and has traction, a 4×4 system will pull the SUV out of that bump without breaking a sweat. This applies to every similar situation which might occur with snow, mud, slush, etc. The entire ladder frame chassis on which such SUVs are built, are used for such scenarios where the cabin of the SUV is separated from the chassis (or the foundation of the SUV). The entire brunt of the road roughness is taken care of by the chassis and the passengers are sat in the comfort of the cabin.
This is one of the most important factors contributing to the increasing popularity of SUVs in India. While initially, the only SUVs one could buy retailed for somewhere around Rs 15 lakh range and above, in 2021, we have SUVs starting at as low as Rs 5.50 lakh. This is the most crucial aspect in a country of price-conscious customers. People opt for value for money propositions in India and the compact SUV segment has given them just that. The prime examples of this are products like the Nissan Magnite (launched in 2020) and Renault Kiger (launched in 2021), both of which cost between Rs 5.50 to Rs 10 lakh, ex-showroom. It is even cheaper than some of the premium hatchbacks and substantially cheaper than the mid-size sedans. The compact SUV segment, along with the mid-size SUV segment, has completely transformed the Indian automobile market. That is, in fact, the major reason for making SUVs a household name.
What Does The Future Look Like?
Well, the industry is leaning towards even smaller SUVs than the compact SUVs which are known as micro-SUVs. The prime examples of such products include the likes of Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and Ignis. The most-awaited product in this segment that would correctly fulfil the parameters of being a micro-SUV will come from house Tata in the form of HBX. The concept of the Tata HBX was showcased at the last Auto Expo and the launch is slated for either the end of 2021 or early 2022. It isn’t too hard to predict that the HBX will be most suitable and popular for populations living in the semi-urban and rural regions because the HBX will be a tough, rugged and muscular SUV.
These are some of the main factors that explain the reasons for the global trend of SUVs and also, a sign of where the automobile industry is heading. The question that we have to ask our audience is “Will the SUVs completely annihilate the sedan segment?”. Do feel free to share your opinion on this with us as the new default choice, for first-time buyers or even for people who are looking to upgrade from small cars, is SUV.