Automobile buyers, particularly those looking to buy a new sports utility vehicle (SUV), will be spoilt for choice this festive season. Auto makers have lined up a bevy of new cars and SUVs to attract buyers during the season, which is supposed to be auspicious for purchases of vehicles and other consumer durables.
Tata Motors Ltd launched its first compact SUV, Nexon, on Thursday, which marked the start of the Navratras. At prices starting from Rs. 5.89 lakh (petrol) and Rs. 7.27 lakh (diesel), Nexon has been positioned in a segment dominated by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd's Vitara Brezza. Mayank Pareek, president of the passenger vehicles business unit at Tata Motors, said the company is confident the Nexon will turn out to be a "blockbuster". "There's no better time to launch a new car than the festive season," he said. The addition of the compact SUV to its product portfolio will mean it will be one of the purchase options for a large group of buyers in a country, he ended.
One in every four automobiles sold in India is an SUV. The Indian arm of French carmaker Renault SA unveiled the Captur, a premium SUV, on Friday. Expected to be priced between Rs15 lakh and Rs20 lakh, the model has been positioned to compete with the likes of Hyundai Creta and Mahindra XUV 5OO.
Renault started accepting bookings for Captur on Friday. The model will help Renault strengthen its position in the fast-growing SUV segment, Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and managing director, said in a statement. A facelifted variant of the Maruti S-Cross that is expected to go on sale on 28 September will be another launch to watch out for in the SUV space. The car is expected to be priced about Rs20,000-30,000 higher than the existing model priced between Rs7.94 lakh and Rs11.66 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
In the premium segment, the Skoda Kodiaq-a seven-seater SUV based on the Superb platform-and Range Rover Velar from Jaguar Land Rover India are set to be launched next month. Others including Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Toyota Kirloskar Motor are set to launch facelifts of some existing models.
The festive season that started with Navratras will include Dussehra, which falls on 30 September, and Diwali on 19 October. The new launches come at a time when higher fuel prices and the goods and services tax cess on some categories of automobiles have made car ownership more expensive. That may weigh on consumer sentiment.
On average, petrol prices have gone up by Rs7 in India's top four cities over the last one year. "The excitement usually seen during this time of the year is not seen yet," an automobile dealer based in northern India said on condition of anonymity. Nitesh Sharma, an analyst at PhillipCapital India, said that although he expects double-digit growth in auto sales volumes in the festive season, compared with last year, demand this time around is going to be "push-based" and will have to be supported by higher discounts.