The Kia Seltos is the new utility vehicle (UV) market leader in India – a crown wrested in just three months of its launch on August 22. With 12,786 units to its credit in October 2019, the Seltos has breezed ahead of the competition, leaving the market leader Maruti Vitara Brezza trailing by 2,559 units.
To be honest, there were all indications that the Seltos was headed this way. Right from launch, the Seltos has seen month on month growth – 6,236 units in August, 7,554 units in September and 12,786 units in October. Cumulatively, the three months add up to 26,576 units or a monthly average of 8,858 units. Interestingly, the petrol/diesel ratio for the Seltos is rather close at 51:49.
Very solid going for a new brand in the Indian market; its robust performance gives Kia Motors India a 4.85 percent UV market share. What has helped the Seltos cut through India's UV market is Kia's ability to match production with demand and a sound marketing strategy of offering multiple engines, multiple gearboxes and multiple variants across multiple price points.
Kia Motors India says it has received over 60,000 bookings for the Seltos till now and, to ensure timely deliveries, has started the second shift to ramp-up production at its manufacturing facility in Anantapur. The company says it will not close bookings as the plant is fully capable of meeting the rising demand for the Seltos.
What is helping the BS6-ready Seltos make headway in the competitive Indian SUV market is its very aggressive pricing. The Korean carmaker's pricing strategy for all of 18 variants covers virtually every price point and starts from Rs 9,69,000 for the entry-level petrol G 1.5 HTE model and goes up to Rs 16.99 lakh for the diesel 1.5 CRDi GTX + (6AT) and G 1.4 Turbo GDI GTX+ (7DCT) top-end variants. With this, it takes on rivals like the Hyundai Creta, MG Hector, Nissan Kicks, Mahindra XUV500 and the Renault Captur in India.
Maruti Vitara Brezza sells 10,227 units
Having wrested the crown back from the Hyundai Venue in September, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza lost it to the Seltos in a span of 30 days. With sales of 10,227 units, the compact SUV has recorded its third-best monthly sales in the April-October period, following the 11,785 units in April and 10,362 units in September. The Brezza's cumulative sales in April-October 2019 are 62,437 units, down 34 percent, year-on-year (April-October 2018: 94,869). The importance of the Brezza to Maruti can be gleaned from the fact that it accounts for 45 percent of the company's 1,37,318 units of UV sales in April-October 2019.
The lack of a petrol engine amidst the growing consumer shift from diesel to petrol has had an adverse impact on the Vitara Brezza over the past year. Newer rivals like the Hyundai Venue and Mahindra XUV300, both of which are available with petrol engines, have not helped things either.
However, the Vitara Brezza will soon fight back with a new petrol engine under the hood. Maruti Suzuki India has begun road tests of the refreshed Vitara Brezza, which is likely to debut around Auto Expo 2020 in February – exactly four years from the model's world premiere at the 2016 Auto Expo, in New Delhi. The company had announced earlier this year that it will stop selling diesel cars from April 1, 2020, due to the upcoming BS6 emission norms. So the upcoming petrol-powered Vitara Brezza will replace the current diesel-powered model.
Hyundai Venue now in third place
As a result of the hard-charging Seltos and an improved performance from the Vitara Brezza, the Hyundai Venue has been pushed to third place in the Top 5 UVs chart with dispatches of 8,576 units. From its launch on May 21 till end-October, the compact SUV has sold a total of 51,257 units comprising 21,531 diesel and 29,726 petrol variants, which makes for a 42:58 ratio, indicative of the consumer preference for petrol power in the domestic market. The Venue comes with three engine options – a 90hp, 1.4-litre diesel motor, an 83hp, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol unit, and a 120hp, 1.0-litre, turbocharged engine.
The Venue, Hyundai's first-ever compact SUV, has given the company new heft in the UV market. Of Hyundai's total 1,06,366 UVs sold in April-October 2019, the Venue accounts for 48 percent. The company says it has around 75,000 bookings for the Venue, which means this is one model that will continue to be in the news.
Hyundai Creta stays at fourth
The arrival of newcomers like the Kia Seltos and its sibling, the Hyundai Venue, has had an impact on the demand for the Hyundai Creta. Once a long-standing No. 2 below the Brezza, the sales/dispatches of 8,576 units in October put the Creta at fourth place in the Top 5 UVs list; similar to its September ranking. The Creta's October performance is better than the 6,641 units in September as well as August's 6,001 units; but they are a tad below July's 6,585 units.
In the April-October period, the Creta has sold a total of 54,371 units (37,827 diesel and the rest petrol) making for a 69:31 diesel-petrol model split. Nevertheless, this total is 27.5 percent down on year-ago sales (April-October 2018 sales: 75,024 units).
The Hyundai Creta has been in India for four years now, although it has been upgraded through the years with refreshed styling and more equipment – which is why Hyundai India plans to launch of the all-new Creta next year, when it completes 5 years in the Indian market.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga sells 7,197 units
The sole MPV in this list, the Maruti Ertiga, takes fifth place with 7,197 units, better than the 6,284 units in September but even lesser than the 8,391 units in August. The Ertiga, in its new avatar, is seeing decent demand. With its modern design, ample space, thoughtful features and value-for-money package, the new Ertiga is ticking most of the right boxes for family and fleet buyers alike.
The first seven months of FY2020 have seen a total of 55,608 Ertigas – 29,922 diesel and 25,686 petrol – going home to buyers. This constitutes an impressive 95 percent YoY growth (April-October 2018: 27,077).
Sole segment to shine in festive October
Take a close look at the Indian automotive industry's October 2019 market performance and the sole vehicle sub-segment that shines is utility vehicles. At 22.22 percent YoY growth (1,00,725 units), it not only accounts for 35.33 percent of total passenger vehicle sales (2,85,027 units) but importantly, it's also the sole PV category to be in the black in the first seven months of the current fiscal year to date (April-October 2019: 5,47,572 units / 0.14 percent).
SUVs are clearly good news for the beleaguered Indian automobile industry, which has seen 11 straight months of overall sales decline, a trend which looks to continue till the fiscal year-end. The clutch of recently launched SUVs – all from global manufacturers – is playing a key role in the resurgence of demand for this vehicle type. Unsurprisingly, their robust sales have, resultantly led to in their manufacturers expanding their UV market share, eating into established OEMs share; this at a time when the chips are down for the rest of the industry. UV manufacturers will be hoping this trend stays strong through to 2020 and beyond.