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Many SUV launches to spoil market

Published On Oct 07, 2009 11:25 AM By Vidyadhar for Nissan Murano

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Customers will be confused what to pick up from the new sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment as in the coming months SUV carmakers line up many launches. The new challengers, such as Hyundai Santa Fe, Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Yeti, Audi Q3, BMW X1, Nissan Murano and Suzuki Grand Vitara diesel, will double the number of SUV models available in the domestic market. Tata Motors, back home is readying a new vehicle and Mahindra & Mahindra will debut its second-generation Scorpio by 2010.

A big chunk of these car makers are rushing to launch their products ahead of schedule after the Toyota Fortuner, launched on August 24, got an overwhelming response from customers. The Rs 18.45-lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) SUV notched up 5,500 bookings in the first week of launch, which is roughly half the size of the domestic premium SUV market.

“The demand was always there but Fortuner was the right SUV the Indian customer had been waiting for and it became the segment leader right from its launch,” said Sandeep Singh of Toyota Kirloskar Motors.Ford India, whose Endeavour was the market leader till it was displaced by Toyota Fortuner, plans to bring in a second SUV to India and that might give it some competition though.

The premium SUVs, priced between Rs 15-60 lakh, command a market of 12,000-14,000 units annually.  Some remouned models in this segment are Suzuki Grand Vitara, Mitsubishi Pajero, Outlander and Montero, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, BMW X3, X5 and X6, Toyota Land Cruiser and Prado and Porsche Cayenne. Nissan X-Trail, Audi Q7 and Land Rover Freelander 2 were launched last month.

As the economy recovers and the average age of Indian car buyer comes down to 33 years, the customer is putting greater emphasis on utility and class with the accent now on sporty SUVs.With the demand for SUVs growing at 18-20% for a few years now, existing players are looking at adding more models to their line ups. Other companies too are putting their strategies together. The domestic car market, including SUVs, saw its highest monthly sales in September 2009 with 1.65 lakh vehicles driven out of showrooms.Tata Manza and Chevrolet Cruze are the other famous launches in the coming months.

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