Family buyers drive multiple purpose vehicles sales up amid slowdown

Led by a series of new launches, the multiple purpose vehicles (MPV), or family cars, are back. The segment registered 35% growth in 2019 to 2.2 lakh units, with cars priced between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 25 lakh. By contrast, most segments of the autom...

MUMBAI: The family pack is very much in demand – and is moving at a fast clip in an otherwise sputtering auto market.

Led by a series of new launches, the multiple purpose vehicles (MPV), or family cars, are back. The segment registered 35% growth in 2019 to 2.2 lakh units, with cars priced between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 25 lakh. By contrast, most segments of the automotive market contracted, often in double digits.

So, the share of MPVs in India has risen from 5% to 8%. To be sure, at its peak, MPVs accounted for 10% of the overall market. Launches from Kia, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota should help the segment regain its previous peak.


The segment was singlehandedly driven by Maruti Suzuki's new generation Ertiga, which accounted for almost 50% share. It was complemented by Renault Triber at the entry level, making up a tenth of the market. Toyota Innova continues to rule the upper end of the segment, which now has Maruti’s XL6 and Mahindra Marazzo populating the middle.

Shashank Srivastava, ED, sales and marketing, Maruti Suzuki, says design is the number one criteria while buying an MPV now.

"It has been an exceptional year for us in the MPV segment. MPVs grew by over 100% led by the new Ertiga. With the new-generation vehicle, we are not only seeing the percentage of first car buyers moving up, but also an increasing number of buyers who are affluent and prefer a top-end variant,” said Srivastava.
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Interestingly, the share of petrol in MPVs has gone up to 35-38% from 5% about 5-7 years ago, and Maruti Suzuki is also reporting strong demand for the CNG variant of Ertiga.

First-time buyers for Ertiga have jumped from 16% to 37% over the last seven years, indicating higher affordability quotient. For Renault India, the share was even higher, at 62%, thanks to the sub-6 lakh price point.

Gaurav Vangaal, country lead for production forecasting at IHS Markit, said MPVs are fast transforming from high-on-practicality and space to high-on-design and features, with space and ride comfort as a prerequisite.

“MPVs today have similar specifications to the high-on-aspiration SUVs. Barring the difference on exteriors, there is very little to differentiate on the inside. Fleets always formed a sizeable share of the MPV market, but with new-generation vehicles, we expect increased traction from personal buyers too," added Vangaal.
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Naveen Soni, Sr VP, sales and service at Toyota Kirloskar, said the Innova created the people mover segment and has remained the preferred choice for thousands of family buyers over the years. With time, Innova has evolved with the needs of the Indian buyers and has remained a strong contender for upgrading families.

“Upright driving position and stance of the vehicles are some of the other factors behind buyers’ continued preference for the Innova,” added Soni.
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Renault has no plans to open up Triber to fleets as yet. Mahindra too ensured that the fleet version of Marazzo came in much later.
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