Pandemic was no speed bump for SUVs

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on January 03, 2021

Strong pent-up demand, product launches keep 2020 sales on high

Cars, two-wheelers and commercial vehicles (CV) are likely to have ended 2020 with decade-low annual sales, but not SUVs. The category has reported decent numbers for the calendar year despite Covid-led disruptions.

The 2020 volumes of SUVs, though lower than 2019, will not be the lowest of the past 9-10 years, as for other vehicle categories.

A strong pent-up demand and new launches helped the SUV segment stage a strong recovery despite lockdown restrictions.

SUV sales have been growing at a strong double digits since 2016, with annual sales ranging between 7.25 lakh units and 9.84 lakh units from 2016 to 2019. For 2020, it’s likely to be 8.7 lakh-8.8 lakh units, an enviable number considering the pandemic.

Hyundai claims top slot

Hyundai Motor India Ltd said it became No 1 in the SUV market in 2020 with total sales of 180,237 units, supported by a strong demand for the Creta and its compact SUV offering, Venue.

“The SUV body style has been the most sought-after irrespective of product segments in 2020, right from entry level cars to bigger cars. Almost all leading carmakers have launched a product each in this segment. There's a reason Maruti Suzuki has positioned the S-Presso as a mini-SUV,” said Suraj Ghosh, Principal Analyst — South Asia Powertrain Forecasts, IHS Markit.

Hyundai’s new Creta, Kia’s Sonet, Mahindra’s Thar and Nissan’s Magnite received blockbuster response. “In H1 of FY21, the compact SUV segment grew more than 50 per cent compared to the same period the previous year,” said Ghosh.

And this trend is expected to continue in 2021 as well due to sustained buyer interest and more OEMs getting into this segment.

In contrast, cars, bikes and scooters are likely to end 2020 with decade-low volumes despite a quick recovery in demand with the Unlock. The CV category, particularly medium and heavy-duty segments, has been the worst hit, though some respite has come in the past couple of months.

Annual (calendar year) car sales have been in the range of 1.7-2.24 million units in the past decade (2011-2019). For 2020, the total car sales is expected at sub-1.5 million levels.

During January-November 2020, they were about 1.25 million units, according to SIAM data.

Published on January 01, 2021

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