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Firms bet on compact SUV

New Delhi, March 17: Car makers are pinning hopes on compact sports utility vehicles (SUV) to boost sales and have lined up the launch of four to five such models this year.

In 2012, Renault’s Duster and Mahindra’s Quanto were the only two compact SUVs to be unveiled.

Last month, passenger car sales plunged to a 12-year low, falling 25.71 per cent to 1,58,513 units. Sales had grown 13.11 per cent to 2,13,362 units during the same period last year.

Car firms are now betting big on compact SUVs, which are below 4 metres, to usher in a turnaround. While Ford is coming out with the EcoSport, Maruti is ready to roll out the XA Alpha, which was unveiled during last year’s auto expo.

General Motors is also believed to be eyeing this segment and sources said Mahindra SsangYong was working on a compact SUV, which is likely to be launched at the end of this year.

Car makers pay a lower excise duty of 12 per cent on sub-four metre SUVs, which translates into attractive prices for customers. On the other hand, the budget has proposed a hike in duty on full-sized SUVs to 30 per cent from 27 per cent.

“Till recently, the utility segment in India meant a handful of typical MUV (multi-utility vehicles) or locally manufactured SUV with sales figures that weren’t seen as a threat to premium hatchbacks or the mid-sized sedans. However, India is a volatile market and all it takes are a couple of good products to change the game completely. New-age compact vehicles such as the Duster and the EcoSport will easily eat into the market share of sedans. These will be given company by more offerings next year,” said Umang Kumar, founder and CEO of Gaadi.com.

Ford India had soft launched the EcoSport a few days back though its official launch date is not known. However, sources said the compact SUV was likely to hit the Indian roads by June.

According to analysts, Maruti Suzuki India is also gearing up to introduce its first compact SUV this fiscal. Sources said the car was likely to be priced between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh.

General Motors India is planning to launch the Chevrolet Trax. Buoyed by the success of the Duster and the Quanto, the company wants to cash in on the demand for compact sports utility vehicles. Sources said the SUV was likely to be launched in both petrol and diesel variants and be priced below Rs 10 lakh.

 
 
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