As predicted correctly by Autocar Professional, utility vehicle (UV) sales in India have crossed the one-million or 10 lakh units for the first time in a single year – in this case, FY2021. As per the sales numbers announced by apex industry body SIAM, a total of 1,060,750 UVs were sold in the domestic market in the just-concluded fiscal year.
The closest the Indian UV industry came to hitting the million-units sales milestone was in FY2020, when at 946,010 units it fell short of the milestone by 53,990 units. Total UV sales in FY2019 were 941,461 units. FY2021 is now the new benchmark.
The sterling performance of the UV segment can be gleaned from the fact that it is the sole sub-segment from the passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, three- and two-wheeler segments to be in positive territory in FY2021. Not only that, in FY2021 (only 11 months considering April 2020 was a zero-production-and-sales month), the UV segment accounted for 39.12% of total PV sales of 2,711,457 units. This betters its FY2020 performance when it accounted for 34.10% (945,959) of total PV sales of 2,773,519 units.
The consistent best-sellers including the Hyundai Creta, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Kia Seltos and the Maruti Ertiga have been the key growth drivers for the segment and their manufacturers.
Helping by a glut of new models as well as refreshed models, the UV segment – which includes SUVs and MPVs – has been firing on all cylinders. Sales crossed the 100,000-unit mark in October and November 2020, January and February 2021 and hit a high of 122,350 units in March 2021 – or 3,946 UVs sold every day of last month. Little wonder why vehicle manufacturers are doing all they can to pump up the volumes to cater to the surging consumer demand.
Over 8.5 million UVs sold over 15 years
A glance at the domestic UV sales data sheet below reveals that total numbers have crossed the 8.5 million or 85 lakh unit mark over 15 years. Fifty-four percent of that figure or 46,32,541 units have come in the last 5 years, indicating the massive demand for this category of vehicle.
SUVs: the cars for all reasons and all seasons
The all-encompassing appeal of the SUV is not difficult to fathom. Bigger and taller than regular cars, they give the driver a better view of the road ahead – so important in a country like India. And, the raised ground clearance is always helpful when it comes to driving over rugged terrain.
Furthermore, being larger than hatchbacks and some sedans, they also pack ample storage space, have cavernous boots and have plenty of room at the rear to stretch out. Just right to be used as a family car. But big can also be small because with the advent of the sub-4-metre compact SUV category in India, these SUVs can easily manoeuvre through dense traffic and also fit into tight spots armed as they are these days with driving aids.
Tanking up is also not a hugely expensive affair as it used to be with SUVs in the past. OEMs and engine engineering have made huge advances over the years, which is why SUVs in recent years are both fuel efficient and also more eco-friendly.
Of course, when it comes to ride and handling, SUVs are the vehicle you’d like to have when you are driving in bad weather conditions or unknown roads. Sizeable weight, bigger and wider wheels and robust nature ensure they deliver improved grip and stability. Safety is paramount and today most SUVs come with ABS, EBD, ESP and even hill-hold and hill-descent control in some cases.
Growth outlook: SUV-ival of the fittest
Moreover, in India, demand for sub-four-metre compact SUVs seems insatiable and OEMs are going all out to introduce new products. The coming months will see a number of new models getting introduced including the likes of Mahindra’s new XUV700, Skoda’s Kushaq, Volkswagen’s Taigun and Hyundai's Alcazar.
Clearly, there's plenty of action coming up on the UV front in FY2021-22. Stay tuned to more number-crunching coming your way.