If the passenger vehicle (PV) segment clocked despatches / sales of 310,294 units (14.19%) in October, then it has the demand for utility vehicles to thank for. That’s because with 113,990 units and robust 20.45% year-on-year growth, the UV segment continues to be stellar contributor to overall PV sales. In October, this contribution was 37% of total PV sales, with passenger cars contributing 182,692 (9.68%) or 59%, and the rest accounted by vans.
Of the total UV sales, these five best-selling UVs cumulatively contribute 55,559 or 49%, indicative of how they are driving the growth in this segment. The Korean carmakers – Hyundai and Kia – are ruling the roost in this segment with two models each in the Top 5 list, while Maruti Suzuki India has its Vitara Brezza in second place. The Hyundai-Kia combine currently has 36.71% UV market share, followed by Maruti Suzuki with 22.73% and Mahindra & Mahindra with 15.27%.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Top 5 fared in October, a month which saw OEMs ‘push’ more vehicles into showrooms to drive sales in the festive season.
No. 1 Hyundai Creta: 14,023 units
The new Hyundai Creta, launched on March 16 this year, is maintaining its pedal-on-the-metal position in the Top 5 stakes. In October 2020, it clocked sale of 14,023 units, comprising 7,614 diesel and 6,409 petrol variants. This is its best monthly performance this fiscal; total Creta sales in the April-October are 60,074 units comprising 35,326 diesel and 24,748 petrol variants. This constitutes a 59:41 percent split in favour of diesel, indicative that the Korean carmaker’s strategy to remain bullish on diesel is paying off. Of Hyundai’s total UV sales of 98,261 units, the Creta accounts for 61%.
The Creta’s pack of powertrains comprises 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine options. Clearly, the new BS VI-compliant diesel motor has outpaced the other two when it comes to market pull.
On October 9, Hyundai Motor India announced that the new Creta has received over 115,000 bookings. According to the company, the Creta is also the most researched model on its end-to-end car buying platform ‘Click to Buy’; the Bluelink enabled variants are also seeing a strong response with over 25,000 customers opting for connected SUVs.
The new Creta, which competes with the Kia Seltos, MG Hector, Renault Duster and Nissan Kicks, is very much on the upswing. The Creta, along with the Venue, has helped drive Hyundai;s UV market share to 21.75% , just below Maruti Suzuki India which has 22.73 percent.
No. 2 Maruti Vitara Brezza 12,087 units
The Maruti Vitara Brezza, which is now available only in petrol, clocked despatches of 12,087 units, its highest monthly tally this fiscal. This takes its April-October 2020 total of 41,064 units. It marks smart resurgence of demand for the model, which was the harbinger of SUV change in the country which it was launched in March 2016.
The Vitara Brezza shares its 105hp and 138Nm, 1.5-litre K15B petrol engine with other Marutis like the Ciaz, Ertiga and XL6. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a 4-speed torque converter-equipped auto is available as an option. Interestingly, Suzuki’s SHVS Smart Hybrid tech is reserved for automatic versions of the compact SUV only. ARAI fuel-efficiency figures rate variants with the 5-speed manual at 17.03kpl while the automatic, with the mild-hybrid tech, has an ARAI-rated 18.76kpl.
The Brezza is retailed through the company’s Arena network, which has around 2,600 outlets spread across 1,900 cities. The massive footprint, combined with the automaker’s brand image, is expected to continue being a significant force behind the Brezza’s sales. Maruti’s digital drive is also giving the Brezza new reach – the company recently announced that its online initiatives have helped sell over 200,000 cars since April 2019.
No. 3 Kia Sonet: 11,721 units
Kia Motors India looks to be on a home run. Barely 14 months into its Indian innings and the company has already crossed the 150,000 units sales milestone. And its first compact SUV – the Sonet – should be giving it more sales speed in the months to come.
The Sonet was officially launched on September 18 at an introductory price of Rs 671,000 (ex-showroom all India). The crossover comes in six trim levels, spread across Tech Line and GT Line variants, and while the diesel trims are priced between Rs 805,000 to Rs 1,199,000, ex-showroom, the turbo-petrol ranges from Rs 949,000 to Rs 1,049,000, ex-showroom.
For the past two months, the Sonet has bettered sales of its sibling, the Seltos. In September, the Sonet sold 9,266 units to the Seltos’ 9,079 units, and in October, the Sonet clocked all of 11,721, compared to the Seltos’ 8,900 units.
The Kia Sonet rides on Kia’s strategy with the bigger Seltos of carpet bombing the segment with a plethora of engine and transmission options to cater to almost every kind of buyer. The crossover gets options of an 83bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol that comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel which gets a 6-speed MT (100bhp) or a 6-speed AT (115bhp) option and last but not the least, the 120bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol or as it is christened as turbocharged gasoline direct injection (TGDi) in Kia-speak, which is paired to a 6-speed iMT clutchless manual transmission.
The Kia Sonet claims a tested fuel-efficiency rating of 18.2kpl for the 1.0 petrol iMT; 18.4kpl for the 1.2 petrol MT; 19.0kpl for the diesel AT and 24.1kpl for the diesel MT. Of the engine variants, the 1.0 and 1.2 petrol account for 60% of the 50,000 bookings, with the balance taken up by the 1.5 CRDi.
The new Kia Sonet, which has over 50,000 bookings in the bag, goes head to head against the likes of the Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Ford EcoSport, Mahindra XUV300 and the Toyota Urban Cruiser.
Of the total 20,987 Sonets sold in two months, 11,330 units have been petrol-powered and the remaining 9,657 diesel, making for a 54:46% fuel-wise split in favour of petrol, similar to that of sibling Seltos.
No. 4 Kia Seltos: 8,900 units
At No. 3 is the Seltos, Kia Motors India’s first product launched on August 22, 2019. A year ago, barely two months into its launch it had sold 12,788 units and taken the top position too. The new Hyundai Creta rolled out in March 2020 and since then the Seltos has been feeling the pressure. Sibling Sonet’s recent rollout and the fact the overwhelming market demand for compact SUVs also seems to have impacted Seltos numbers.
In October, the Seltos clocked a total of 8,900 units, taking its 15-month sales total of 127,345 units, which translates into a monthly average sale of 8,489 units. In the April-October 2020 period, the Seltos has sold a total of 45,629 units, comprising 25,970 petrol and 19,659 diesel which makes for a 57:43% ratio in favour of petrol power.
On June 1, Kia rolled out a 10-feature re-jig to the crossover’s variant line-up with pricing of the refreshed Seltos starting at Rs 989,000 ex-showroom, India. While it is premature in the auto industry for a carmaker to be bringing any updates to a model as fresh as nine months old, Kia’s step can be assumed to have come in response to the launch of the Creta from Hyundai – its sister company giving it the home-grown competition, which starts at Rs 999,000 ex-showroom.
The Seltos has been instrumental in giving Kia a strong foothold in the Indian market and the company currently has a 14.96% UV market share – not bad for a 15-months-in-the-market OEM which is fourth in the pecking order among 16 UV players.
The Seltos recently received a three-star crash test rating in the latest round of tests conducted by Global NCAP, under its Safer Cars for India initiative. The entry-level variant of the Seltos was chosen for the crash test.
No. 5 Hyundai Venue: 8,828 units
The Hyundai Venue, whose sales have been slowing down of late, is back in the reckoning with a strong 8,828 units, which is its best monthly performance in the fiscal year till now. Demand for Hyundai’s first-ever compact SUV has been impacted by the surging consumer preference for its sibling – the new Creta.
However, unlike the Creta which sees customers preferring it in diesel guise, the Venue sees overwhelming demand for its petrol variants. Of the total 37,669 Venue SUVs sold in the April-October 2020 period, 26,691 units or an overwhelming 71% are petrol compared to 10,978 diesel variants.
The recent past has seen Hyundai introduce minor updates to the Venue. In addition to the upgrade to BS VI, the company has added a new ‘Sport’ trim and a clutchless manual gearbox, or intelligent manual transmission (iMT) in Hyundai-speak, to the model’s line-up. But new competition in the form of the Kia Sonet and Toyota Urban Cruiser is already in the market, with the new Nissan Magnite to enter the arena next month.
The future looks bright for the UV segment, what with a gaggle of new products already have been launched and some new ones on their way. In sync with the global trend, demand continues unabated for compact SUVs and most OEMs are putting their shoulder to the UV wheel to produce more as manufacturing plants return to their former humming mode.
Also, like their passenger car brethren, consumers are fast making the shift to petrol-engined UVs. Compared to a year ago, the 71:29 diesel:petrol UV fuel-wise split has flipped to 43:57 percent in favour of petrol.