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Year of SUVs: Of 20 possible car launches in 2019, 15 are utility vehicles

By Pritish Raj

Utility vehicles are set to dominate the new car launches in 2019, with top manufacturers and new entrants preparing for a massive SUV onslaught, given consumer preferences shifting to bigger cars with higher safety quotient.

At least 15 of the possible 20 product launches in FY20 are believed to be in the category of utility vehicles by Tata Motors, Nissan India, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai, among others.

Customers are looking to upgrade to higher models that have more features and, therefore, we also want to tap the opportunity lying ahead in terms of preference change, an official of a leading car maker told FE.

While Tata Motors will launch its premium SUV Harrier on January 23, Nissan will launch its compact SUV Kicks a day before. M&M will launch a compact SUV XUV 300 early February. The company is also likely to launch another SUV later in FY20. Hyundai India is planning to launch its new compact SUV codenamed QXi and has been road-testing it for a few months. The company will also launch its electric SUV Kona. As per an ICICI Securities report, Maruti Suzuki is likely to launch one new model in the SUV category in FY20, apart from its slated product refreshes.

New entrants like Korean car maker Kia Motors and China s MG Motors are set to enter India during the first half of 2019, with an initial product pipeline comprising SUVs.

While Kia will launch its premium SUV SP2i and Sportage during the year, MG Motors will launch its first SUV, probably the RX5, followed by other models such as MG ZS and MG HS. We have evaluated the Indian automobile market thoroughly, and in recent times, we have seen a preference for mid-size SUVs, which, we believe, is not going to slow down anytime soon. Indian users prefer having a car that is higher up from the ground for better visibility and control considering the current road conditions, said Manohar Bhat, head of marketing and sales, Kia Motors India. French car maker Renault is likely to launch its SUV Arkana during the year. The company is also working on a budget MPV offering for India, based on the Kwid. Several other car makers, including Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, are reportedly working on SUVs to be launched this year or early next year.