The UV segment in the passenger vehicle space is one which, despite the two-year-long slowdown in the Indian automotive industry, has been consistently witnessing swift action, embracing growth on the back of strong liking from consumers for the SUV body style.
In FY2020, even as the overall PV segment recorded a sharp decline of almost 18 percent at 2,775,679 units, UVs registered a 0.48 percent growth to 946,010 units, thereby bucking the market trend. The phenomenon, however, is not specific to the Indian market as crossovers and sports utility vehicles are globally finding good customer response and appealing buyers from all demographics.
So, with robust market demand, the segment has also been on the top radar of carmakers, who in the last few years, have upped their aggression to increasingly offer more competitive UV products. In fact, new market entrants of the likes of Kia Motors India and MG Motor India have only chosen the UV path to establish their footprint in the Indian market. Today, GWM confirmed its investment of a billion dollars (Rs 7,401 crore) to transform GM India’s plant in Talegaon and also set up an R&D Centre in Bangalore.
While most of the UV action in India has been happening in the compact-crossover or the sub-four-metre compact SUV space with products such as the Ford EcoSport, Maruti Vitara Brezza and more recently the Hyundai Venue ruling the roost, it is the midsized crossover category that falls next in line.
Creta turns five in India, looks to thrive
The sole midsized stalwart which be said to have given a boost to UVs in India and became an instant hit when launched way back in June 2015 is the Hyundai Creta. The UV went on to sell 466,839 units in the domestic market until January 2020, before the carmaker unveiled the second-generation model at the Auto Expo in February, amidst huge fanfare.
The new Creta, which was eventually launched on March 16, has a lot riding on its wheels for two reasons. Firstly, it can play a key role in exciting the mood of the market from the current scenario, and secondly, make Hyundai regain its lost share from its own sibling Kia Motors India.
Kia, which had entered the market by launching the Seltos SUV on August 22, 2019, in no time, went on to establish a strong connect with the customer and gained popularity with the feature loaded Seltos instantly showing high up in the sales charts.
Where the Creta was the king of the UV segment, and helped Hyundai clinch up to 20.86 percent of the UV market share in August 2019, it gradually felt the heat from the Seltos when Hyundai’s share dropped to 18.86 percent by January 2020, with Kia already having gained 7.43 percent =in just a little over five months of entering the market.
Even as both Hyundai and Kia belong to the parent Hyundai Motor Group, and the new Creta and Seltos being underpinned by the same platform, the two brands have been portraying that the operations are not interlinked when it comes to the front-end of sales.
New Creta: 30,000 bookings and counting
With the new Creta, Hyundai Motor India, is betting big on the model to regain its lost crown and the has announced that it has so far received 30,000 bookings for the SUV, since it began accepting them on March 2.
According to Tarun Garg, Director (Sales, Marketing and Service), Hyundai Motor India, “The all-new Creta has introduced many industry firsts, becoming an instant hit among customers at launch. Unlocking this achievement of 30,000 bookings despite such challenging conditions, stands testament to its popularity and exclusive appeal. We are confident that the new Creta will continue to drive customer delight and lead the way back towards normalcy in automobile sales, with its immense success.”
Clearly, there are strong possibilities of Hyundai being able to achieve what it set out for with the new Creta. Monthly sales in a truncated month of May depict buyer confidence in the Hyundai brand Hyundai and more specifically the Creta, which became the top-selling model with 3,212 units.
However, as Hyundai has adopted the same strategy as Kia by offering a whole host of powertrain options including a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol with a 7-speed DCT, a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel, it is an unearthed fact that both only majorly differ in terms of their styling.
So, while on one end, the Creta is seen increasing its attack on its cousin Seltos, Kia Motors India, on the other hand, has also been responding by reshuffling and inflating the feature set on the popular Seltos to keep buyers within its fold. This sibling rivalry is getting more exciting and it will be interesting to see who has the last laugh. We will keep a close watch.