Indians car buyers lapping up SUVs, high-tech features like never before

New Delhi: India's romance with SUVs is intensifying ever so fast and automakers are fuelling the affair even further, having launched 36 such models in the last five years. Such is the craze for SUVs at present that waiting periods for some of the most popular models are stretching to over two years, and fresh orders are still flowing in.

Car buyers are now willing to spend more on their personal mode of travel and are preferring top-end variants which come loaded with features like sunroof and connected technologies.

In a market where hatchbacks used to dominate the sales charts, it is the entry-level and mid-sized sports utility vehicles (SUVs) which are growing in popularity, leading to more and more product launches in the segment.

"The SUV segment has seen a major growth in the last few years. The SUV segment's contribution, which was around 19 per cent of the industry, has now gone up to 40 per cent in 2021-22 and we see it growing further," Maruti Suzuki India Senior Executive Director (Sales and Marketing) Shashank Srivastava said.

With increase in demand, the entry-level SUV segment became the largest in the domestic passenger vehicle market last fiscal, overtaking the premium hatchback vertical which has dominated the market since 2011.

Out of 30.68 lakh volumes last year, the entry-level SUVs' share stood at 6.52 lakh units.

It is no surprise either that the maximum model launches in the last five years in the entire passenger vehicle segment have been in the compact and mid-level SUV space.

"Also, the new age millennials are preferring to buy high-end variants which come equipped with several comfort and convenience features. Preference for feature loaded cars has gone up from 17 per cent in 2016-17 to 24 per cent in 2021-22," Srivastava noted.

Studies show that the spending would further increase now and people are willing to spend more, he said.

Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Managing Director Shailesh Chandra said differentiated design, evolving lifestyles, shift from public to personal transport as a result of the pandemic, growing awareness of safety and convenience features, among others, are some of the factors that are driving growth in the passenger vehicles market.

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