After record-breaking FY2024, SUV OEMs open FY25 on a strong note | Autocar Professional

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As they did in FY2024, the utility vehicle (UV) sub-segment, which comprises UVs, SUVs and MPVs, continues to power sales in the overall passenger vehicle segment which also includes cars, sedans and vans.

Also, just as it did in the FY2024 – a 60% share of the 4.21 million-units PV sales with 2.52 million units – the UV segment has taken a 63% share of overall PV sales in April 2024. At 213,117 units last month, UV sales are up 19% YoY (April 2023: 178,753 units). And, similarly, UV sales have helped buffer the sharp 22% decline in sales of hatchbacks and sedans in April 2024.

HOW THE LEADING VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS HAVE FARED IN APRIL
Maruti Suzuki India, the passenger vehicle as well as UV market leader, saw flat PV sales in April 2024 –  137,952 units were zero percentage growth (April 2023: 137,320 units). At 56,553 units last month, cumulative sales of the seven-model UV portfolio comprising the Brezza, Ertiga, Fronx, Grand Vitara, Invicto, Jimny and XL6, recorded strong 54% YoY growth. In the process, as they did in FY2024, they have helped buffer the sustained decline in consumer demand for Maruti Suzuki’s entry-level hatchbacks as well as sedans. What’s more, UVs accounted for 41% of the company’s overall passenger vehicle sales in April 2024, probably the highest in a single month.

Mahindra & Mahindra, with its SUV-laden portfolio, dispatched 41,008 SUVs in April 2024, up 18% YoY (FY2023: 34,694 units). This is the fourth month in a row that M&M has dispatched over 40,000 units: January 2024 (43,068 units, up 30%), February 2024 (42,401 units, up 40%), March 2024 (40,631, up 13%). In an extremely competitive market for utility vehicles, M&M, which has eight SUVs (Bolero, Bolero Neo, Scorpio, Scorpio N, Scorpio Classic, Thar, XUV300/XUV3XO, XUV400 and XUV700), is extremely well placed to capitalise on the surging demand for this vehicle type. 

On April 29, M&M launched the new XUV3XO at an aggressive starting price of Rs 749,000 with a strategic goal to be the new disrupter in the compact SUV market, which saw sales of over a million units in FY2024 and accounted for 25% of the record 2.52 million UV dispatches.

SUVs accounted for 67% of Hyundai Motor India’s total PV sales of 50,201 units in April 2024. At 33,788 units, sales were up 24% (April 2023: 27,304). Hyundai currently retails seven SUVs (Creta, Venue, Alcazar, Exter, and Tucson along with the all-electric Ioniq 5 and Kona). The Creta clocked 15,447 units, up 9% (April 2023: 14,186). Demand for the Venue and Exter compact SUVs at 16,876 units was up by a strong 63% (April 2023: 10,342).

Tata Motors, with its four-model portfolio of the Nexon, Punch, Harrier and the Safari, dispatched an estimated 33,788 units (the same as Hyundai), which makes for a 10% increase (April 2023: 30,748 units). Sales have been slowing down for the Nexon but with a CNG model soon in the offing, Tata Motors’ best-seller should soon be back to big numbers. Meanwhile, the Punch, whose portfolio has expanded with the rollout of CNG and EV variants, continues to punch above its weight and snare sales from rivals.

Kia Motor India’s UV sales last month, at 19,968 units, were down 14% YoY (April 2023: 23,216 units). Sales of all its four products were down YoY. Its best-seller in April 2024 was the Sonet with 7,901 units, down 19% (April 2023: 9,744), followed by the Seltos with 6,734 units, down 6.64% (April 2023: 7,213), the Carens MPV with 5,328 units, down 13% (April 2023: 6,107) and a five units of the all-electric EV6 MPV, down 96% (April 2023: 152 units).

Toyota Kirloskar Motor, which sold 18,676 PVs in April 2024, saw the UV share of this total increase to 76% – 14,117 units – compared to 73% in April 2023 (10,180 UVs out of 13,896 PVs). The Innova Crysta and Innova HyCross MPVs together accounted for 7,103 units, up 47% YoY (April 2023: 4,837). The Rumion MPV and the Urban Cruiser Hyryder together sold 4,444 units, up 70% (April 2023: 2,616). The remaining 2,570 units comprised the Fortuner, Hilux, Land Cruiser and Vellfire, down 6% YoY (April 2023: 2,727).  

Two other OEMs have seen strong numbers. Volkswagen India, which dispatched 1,866 UVs last month, recorded 20% YoY growth (April 2023: 1,551 units). The bulk of the sales are of the Taigun – 1,758 units, up 16% (April 2023: 1,520 units). The Tiguan SUV sold 108 units, up 248% on a very low year-ago base of 31 units.

The Elevate SUV has given Honda Cars India a new charge in the UV segment, one which the Japanese automakers was missing for a long time. In April 2024, the company dispatched 1,731 units of the Elevate, which takes the total number of Elevates sold in India to 35,373 units since the model’s launch nine months ago.

Trading places: In FY2013, hatchbacks and sedans had a 70% share of the passenger vehicle market while UVs had 21%. In FY2024, the car share of PVs has plunged to 37% while the UV share has soared to 60 percent.  

THE RISE AND RISE OF UTILITY VEHICLE SALES. . . AND THE DECLINE OF PASSENGER CAR DEMAND
In sharp contrast to the sales slide of the hatchback and sedan market, the sales graph of the UV segment has soared and how. From the 552,135 UVs sold in FY2015 through to the record 25,20,691 units sold in FY2024, the increase has been 356% over a decade.

The vehicle category to put the pandemic blues fastest behind them, SUV and MPV sales surpassed the million-units milestone for the first time in FY2021 (10,60,750 units, up 12%), and then have consistently for the next three fiscals delivered high double-digit growth. While FY2022 saw 1.48 million-unit sales and sterling 40% growth, the two-million-milestone was achieved in FY2023 at an equally robust 34% YoY growth rate. And the UV segment has wrapped up FY2024 with 26% growth at 2.52 million units. Ample reason and more why every OEM worth its wheel wants to have a slice of the SUV market.

The consumer in this segment, particularly for SUVs, is truly spoilt – including the 16 SIAM member companies and 14 luxury OEMs there are 30 OEMs with an estimated 115 UV models and a mind-boggling 810-odd variants!

Of the mainstream players, Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota are the ones with the highest number of models – 8 each. While M&M’s SUV portfolio covers 103 variants, Maruti has 65 and Toyota 51 variants. However, Tata Motors, with six SUVs (including the Nexon EV and Punch EV), has the highest number of variants – over 150! And the luxury pack comprises 16 carmakers encompassing 60-odd models and 150-plus variants.

FY2025, which opened with the launch of new SUVs like the Toyota Urban Cruiser Taisor, Mahindra XUV 3XO and Force Gurkha five-door in April 2024, will see a number of new models / variants including the Tata Curvv, Tata Nexon iCNG and the Mahindra Thar five-door. The first month of the new fiscal year with dispatches of 213,117 UVs has set the tone. Will the tempo be maintained in the coming months? Let’s wait and watch. 

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