Auto majors bet on cross-over models or mini SUVs


Cross-overs are in vogue in the Indian car industry, fuelled by the growing love of Indians for designs that ape SUV styling. Built on car platforms and carrying certain traits of SUVs like higher ground clearance, aggressive styling and roof-rails, crossovers are the flavour of the season in the Indian car market.

After Volkswagen, Toyota and Fiat, it is now the turn of Hyundai to drive a cross-over into the local market. Built on the i20 hatchback platform and named i20 Active, Hyundai has priced the vehicle from Rs 6.38 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) onwards. The petrol variants, which sport a 1.2-litre en gine, are priced between Rs 6.38 lakh and Rs 7.09 lakh, while the 1.4-litre diesel versions cost between Rs 7.63 lakh and Rs 8.89 lakh. This car was launched at Delhi on 17th March, 2015.

Maruti Suzuki, the country’s top carmaker, is also slated to drive in the SX4 S-Cross later this year.

So what has led to the grand run for the SUV-styled vehicles? The success of mini SUVs like Renault Duster and Ford Eco Sport clearly brought out the love of Indians for such body styles.

The city SUVs are not fullbloodied off-roaders but are more in demand, mainly due to their aggressive styling and certain (though limited) offroading capabilities. But these cost upwards of Rs 8 lakh, prompting companies to develop cross-overs on some of their existing small cars.

These are easier to design, cheaper to manufacture, and provide a new vehicle option between a compact car and a mini SUV . So Volkswagen got in the Polo Cross (built on the Polo), Toyota the Etios Cross (built on Etios Liva) and Fiat the Avventura (built on the Punto).

Sales of these vehicles, however, are still limited, clocking cumulative volumes of a little over 1,000 units a month. Hyundai, however, is confident of getting higher numbers. Rakesh Srivastava, senior VP (sales & marketing), said that the company expects to sell at least 2,000 units of i20 Active on a monthly basis. The company is also gearing up to launch a new compact SUV which is expected to come in the latter part of the year. City SUVs are also planned by other companies, including Maruti, Honda and Volkswagen.

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