CHENNAI: Once led by the iconic Qualis and later by Ertiga and Innova, the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segment is now one of the most challenging segments for Indian automobile manufacturers. With compact sports utility vehicles (SUVs) gaining popularity, most car makers have either discontinued production of their MPV models or dropped plans of introducing new ones. Barring the likes of Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Toyota Innova Crysta, not many products seem to have much traction.
American carmaker General Motors discontinued production of its MPV Chevrolet Enjoy. The move to rejig company’s product portfolio was largely due to changing trends and customer preferences in India. Also, top firms like Hyundai Motor India which showcased its Hexa MPV in 2012, still have not ventured into this segment.
While the utility vehicle segment has registered a growth of 30 per cent in 2016-17 compared to FY16, the MPV space has registered nine per cent growth. Overall, the industry sold a total of 7.61 lakh units in the domestic market with the majority of them being SUVs. According to analysts, people prefer SUVs as these vehicles can tackle the tough road conditions better than MPVs. Another major problem for the decline in MPV sales is the uncertainty around diesel cars.
With the success of Kwid and Duster, French auto major Renault is estimated to have increased its market share by five per cent but, its bet on bringing in Lodgy MPV doesn’t seem to have worked. The company has sold a total of 2,587 units during January-September 2017 against 9,179 units in FY16.
While poor market has brought down the monthly sales of the vehicle, Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and MD, Renault India Operations, says his confidence in its MPV Lodgy is intact. According to him, Lodgy could not tap the fleet market in some of the states owing to speed governor issues. Renault has recently
introduced speed governors in their models and expects the demand to revive.