The country’s largest passenger vehicle maker, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) is eyeing the top position in the sports utility vehicles (SUVs) market despite tough competition in the segment which now has 56 models.

The company unveiled its first mid-size SUV ‘Grand Vitara’, which will competing with the likes of Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Tata Harrier and MG Hector. Currently Korean car makers’ subsidiaries Hyundai Motor India and Kia India dominate the mid-size SUV segment with Creta and Seltos models respectively.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the unveiling of Grand Vitara, Hishashi Takeuchi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, MSIL said that Indian automobile industry is undergoing transformational changes in terms of technology, customer preferences and purchasing power.

“In the last few years, we have seen a growing preference for SUVs. The segment contributes to almost 40 per cent of the total industry sales. Within this, mid-sized SUV segment contributes around 50 per cent,” he said adding that the segment size is estimated to double in next 3-4 years.

Toyota facility

Grand Vitara is the first vehicle to be manufactured at Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s facility in Karnataka as per the global joint venture between Toyota and Suzuki of Japan.

Takeuchi, said the components of the new vehicle are through the Maruti Suzuki supply chain and meeting the demand of the vehicles will depend on the chip shortage.

“The next challenge is the production capacity and supply of components. We didn’t have many products (in SUVs), but now we have renewed the Brezza and next is the mid-size Grand Vitara. Our people have to work on the procurement of necessary components and also chip shortage is also not gone yet, so still there are some hiccups,” he said.

Grand Vitara features

The Grand Vitara will come with a 1.5-litre petrol powertrain mated with strong and mild hybrid technology, giving a fuel efficiency of 27.97 km per litre, making it India’s most fuel-efficient SUV, the company said. The mild hybrid variants would offer 21.11 km per litre.

Other features include panoramic sunroof, head-up display, 360 view camera, various active and passive safety equipment and wireless charger, to name a few. MSIL will sell the model its 420 Nexa dealerships across the country.

Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales), MSIL, said, “The SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) now contribute around 49 per cent to overall passenger vehicle sales. The industry remains at a bit of standstill but the mid-sized SUV segment has grown by 45 per cent in the last three years.”

The mid SUV segment stood at 5.4 lakh units last fiscal and now accounts for 18 per cent for the entire passenger vehicle segment, he noted adding that it is expected to grow by a CAGR of 10 per cent going ahead.

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