The proportion of four-wheeler vehicles on Indian roads is currently highly dynamic. Gone are those days when the sub-continent population used to use a handful of models. The perished Ambassador and Premier had to give way to hatchbacks from Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors; the two supremos had quite a good run. The scenario had rapidly changed since the introduction of international carmakers in early 2000’s which was coupled with the change in demands of customers. Now the roads are ruled by Sports Utility Vehicles, compact SUV’s; and that the Crossover Utility Vehicles trend has kicked off in the market needs no introduction.
These crossovers have been based on popular sedan or hatchback models therefore are based on the same platform with relative similar features. However the overall looks of the crossover is more inclined towards sports utility vehicle therefore it is regarded as a cross between traditional sedan or hatch and SUV. The popularity of this type of design has been growing worldwide signified by profitable sales and hence companies are developing crossovers along similar lines which will be based on popular models.
The best example can be stated with the Fiat Avventura; with sub-4 meter body and plastic cladding on lower section of the body for an off-roader look. Toyota has adopted the latest trends and has come up with Etios Cross based on its not-so-popular Etios Liva hatchback. The model was released last month and has been introduced with both petrol and diesel powertrains targeting to maximize its customer reach; the car will be exported depending on demand from India.
The Etios Cross is currently taking on the Volkswagen Cross Polo based on the Polo hatchback with changes on its exteriors to suit the overall design of a crossover vehicle. This car has lesser side body plastic cladding when compared to standard CUV vehicles whereas the Etios Cross has a more robust appearance with silver colored bumper guard and a large headlight cluster.
Besides Fiat, Toyota and Volkswagen other international players were also keen on creating new best sellers in a market ruled by entry level hatchbacks and luxury sedans and that led to the introduction of the Renault Duster, later followed by the Ford EcoSport. The Duster swept away the market when it was launched and enjoyed monopoly but then entered the American EcoSport which became the market leader in no time. While the Ecosport has a long waiting list of nearly six months, the Duster has a waiting period of nothing less than 3-4 months.
Sharing the Duster platform is the Terrano from Nissan; considered as a higher end version of the Renault vehicle, helping Nissan also mark its presence in this growing demand of compact SUVs. The battle will get intensified by next year with Maruti Suzuki and Honda eyeing this lucrative segment. While Maruti’s XA Alpha is on the cards, the SX4 S-Cross has been caught testing several times; launch of the SX4 S-Cross will take place in early 2015. Honda’s crossover which is expected to share the Brio platform is still at concept stage and may be ready by next year.
The population is already obsessed with Compact SUVs and CUVs are also expected to grab some market share once there are sufficient models across showrooms. These two genres seriously threaten future premium hatchbacks in our country.