Srinagar: In the last one decade or so, Sport-Utility Vehicle (SUV) in Kashmir has gained a lot of market with several of these car owners saying that heavy snowfall, floods and bad roads make small cars unviable in the Valley.
According to Regional Transport Office (RTO) Kashmir, in the last one decade, particularly after 2014 floods, there has been a marked increase in the registration of SUVs. Official figures suggest that out of the total 1.75 lakh private cars on Kashmir roads, there is a sizable share of SUVs.
Car buyers who are making a transition from sedan or hatchback to SUV are openly expressing their love for the 'beast', as the SUV is also known as.
Fahad Ahmad of Rajbagh, who shifted from a Hyundai i10 to a Hyundai Santa-Fe six years back, says the comfort was the most important deciding factor in his purchase of an SUV. Sahil Farooq is another avid lover of SUV's who convinced his father to purchase a Hyundai Venue. The trend is not limited to men only but women too are getting hitched to the lure of SUVs. Saima Bhat, an engineer who drives a Renault Duster for the last five years, says initially she found it difficult to 'control' the vehicle but now she can easily zoom past 80 kmph.
She says though SUVs often find it hard to steer clear of narrow lanes and bylanes, their other qualities more than compensate for the lack of good roads. Going by the current trend, the experts and car dealership owners opine that SUVs would garner a healthy chunk of share of the car market in the valley.
Jibran Beigh, Managing Director, Himalayan Motors, a dealership of Mahindra & Mahindra says the SUV segment of cars has gained a huge importance in Kashmir’s automobile market. “ All automobile companies are now focussing on SUVs, be it micro, mini or large SUV. Mahindra & Mahindra is a major SUV manufacturer in the country as all the vehicles of this car maker are SUVs. The XUV 7OO launched recently comes after the grand success of XUV 3OO and XUV 5OO. I hope even this car will get great response” Beigh said.
Sanjay Mahajan, Director of AM Tata, a unit of AMSM Automart Private Limited says they are “ecstatic at the response received by the Tata Harrier and the Safari”. “The sheer love of our customers has helped us attain the pole position in the high SUV segment. Keeping our customers requirements as the top most priority and in line with our new forever philosophy of continuously updating our portfolio with new products and features, we are delighted to introduce the latest variants - The Harrier XTA+ and The Safari XTA+”said Mahajan. Equipped with two of the most demanded features, these XTA+ variants will come equipped with a 6-speed Automatic Transmission providing an effortless driving experience and a Panoramic Sunroof with functionalities like Global Close, Anti Pinch & Rain Sensing closure to name a few, he said.
“Tata Motors’ flagship SUV, the Safari along with the Harrier collectively contribute 41 per cent of the market share as of Q1 of FY22 in the premium SUV market. So, the manufacturer is leaving no stones unturned to keep the customers happy by offering them the flagship spec features in the mid-spec SUV variant”says Malhotra.
Mushtaq Wani, General Manager, Sales Marketing, Jamkash Group Kashmir says SUVs in Kashmir have seen “an unprecedented growth” from last year mainly owing to the good mileage these vehicles offer.
“From last couple of years, we have come along very turbulent phases in the automobile sector with Covid being the main reason hampering overall growth of this sector. Despite the fact we have seen growth when it comes to our Vitara Brezza petrol version. Valley being a Petrol driven passion society and Vitara shifting from diesel to petrol version was an icing on the cake”says Wani.
Wani says the company has registered a “comprehensive growth in retail number despite a dip in over all production of vehicles”.
“Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is the only SUV in its segment to offer a 1.5 liter-4 cylinder petrol engine. The punch yet refined K-Series petrol engine makes 105 PS and 138 Nm, which is more than ample for both city and highway driving”adds Wani.
Wani says easy availability of service centers, spare parts and brand of Suzuki have proved an additional advantage to customer while making the decision of purchase regarding Vitara Brezza.
Commenting on their stable of cars, Umar Yaqoob Mir, Director HK Nissan, Athwajan Bypass Srinagar says the all-new Nissan Magnite and Nissan Kicks “marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Nissan NEXT strategy for both the Indian and global market”. “Built on the philosophy of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’, the all-new Nissan Magnite comes with more than 20 first-in-class and best-in-segment features that provides consumers with a differentiated, innovative and accessible ownership experience. Nissan Magnite is the official car for ICC T20 World Cup 2021,” said Mir.
Sheikh Ruhail, Sales Head, KC Hyundai Srinagar says more than one out of every three passenger “vehicle sold in India is now an SUV”. “This has raised the share of SUV in Indian passenger vehicle sales to 35% from 29% last year” , says Ruhail. Ruhail claimed that “Hyundai is the SUV market leader in India as it had a share of more than 23% during January to May 2021” Ruhail said. India is at the cusp of an SUV revolution, he added.
Shabir Ahsan Bhat, Sales Head, ARG Automobiles Pvt Ltd said the upcoming automobile market is more promising for SUV only. “The market share increases sharply in the SUV month on month. Average market share of New Jeep Compass from January, 2021 till date is approximately 45 to 50%. Jeep is not a machine only, it's also a life which customers experience while driving the vehicle and go anywhere and do anything.This vehicle is legendary, authentic” says Bhat.
Ashfaq Nabi Bhat, Sales Head, Arise Autoz Pvt Ltd Morris Garages, J&K says the MG hector has grabbed attention by its split headlight design. “The mid-size SUV is well priced and looks great. MG Hector offers a wheelbase of 2750 mm which is quite huge,” says Bhat. “The Hector iSmart system comes with a cloud enabled AI-based voice assistant,” Bhat said.