Hyundai SUV dominance under threat? Maruti, Tata, Mahindra take big strides
Hyundai Motor India has had a dominating say in the mass-market SUV space ever since the launch of Creta back in 2015. Combined with the Venue that was subsequently launched in 2019, the Koreans have managed to have a firm grip in the under- ₹20 lakh SUV segment. But is this firm grip now being unraveled meticulously by rivals?
Hyundai's SUV portfolio at present consists of Venue, Creta, Alcazar and Tucson. Of these, Venue and Tucson were updated last year. While Venue is faring well, Tucson was never really a volume driver like Creta. But even the present Creta was launched three years ago and there is some fatigue that is likely creeping in. Then there is the Alcazar that isn't rated as a hot-seller like some of its siblings.
In the meantime, direct rivals have fired lock, stock and barrel. Mahindra, for instance, has an SUV-only lineup which starts with the XUV300 and goes all the way to the XUV700. The likes of Thar, Scorpio-N, Scorpio and Bolero are raking in the numbers. Then there is Tata Motors that positions its Nexon sub-four-meter SUV as a champion in its segment. Even the diesel-only Harrier and Safari have been given numerous updates and offered in special editions to keep the buzz loud. Recently, the Red Dark Edition of both these SUVs were launched with updated cabin features and ADAS.
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And then there is Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest car maker, that admits it has come to the SUV party late but has come to dance all the way to the top. Till not so long ago, the company only had the Vitara Brezza as its solitary SUV offering, regardless of how it marketed the likes of S-Presso, Ignis and S-Cross. But recent times has seen the entry of Grand Vitara strong hybrid mid-size SUV model as well as Fronx crossover SUV. Next up is the Jimny lifestyle SUV. Clearly, the company is in a rush and openly - almost brazenly, says it will take over the No. 1 SUV manufacturer crown in the foreseeable future.
In the face of fierce compeition then, what road is Hyundai planning to take? The Koreans are not content in being relegated to the sidelines and have confirmed an entry-level SUV in the form of Exter that is likely to take on Tata Punch. Expected to be launched around August, the Exter could be just what Hyundai needs to add winds to its sails ahead of the festive period. But bigger still could be the launch of the updated Creta with several reports suggesting an early 2024 timeline for it. So even as the present period is fraught with challenges galore, Hyundai appears to be digging in heels for the long fight ahead.