The bigger the better – SUVs

It seems that SUVs or Sports Utility Vehicles seem built for the state capital Delhi. Not only does New Delhi symbolize power but almost all of the car launches happen there. New Delhi is a big state and so are SUVs. Most of the people staying there are influential and a cut above the rest. SUVs have seating position which are almost the same and wherein you can view down upon autorickshaw drivers and other fellow road users with disdain. Most of the SUVs are a very powerful lot and so are the people staying in New Delhi. Forget the fact that fuel prices are every increasing plus roads are clogged and more narrow and the very fact that all this power cannot be demonstrated or put to good use since the traffic police have a strict policy out there that no one should exceed 55 kmph speed.

SUVs also suit the New Delhi way of living and that is “if you have it, then show it”. Moreover people staying in Delhi want to go one above their neighbor or relatives. If your neighbor or relative from Mumbai has got a CR-V, then his counterpart from Delhi would buy a Mercedes ML class. All the top SUV producing companies also agree to this part. BMW’s President for India, Andreas Schaff also says that the northern part of India is one of their biggest markets in India. However don’t big SUVs drink more fuel? To this question, one of New Delhi’s entrepreneur Rajat Bhatia says that he has two of Audi’s finest products for daily use and those are the Audi A8L and the Audi Q7. However he prefers moving around in the Audi Q7 more because it provides him with a sense of security and more importantly road presence. Moreover the chassis of the Q7 can be raised by a mere touch of the button and this takes care of the bad roads. The head lamps are also more powerful making night time driving an easy task. He further said that if he can afford an Audi Q7, then he can certainly afford the rising fuel prices. As it is, he has a diesel Q7 and hence a few rupees increase doesn’t matter to him. He also said that more and more car buying public should go for SUVs rather than the puny hatchbacks. It is just this mentality that other SUV owners carry. However the traffic police beg to differ. Upendra Garg, the joint commissioner of Delhi traffic police says that the bigger a vehicle, the bigger is it a problem for other road users. As of now, for car sales in India, SUVs account for only a mere one percent. Many SUV owners however want to change this image and want SUVs to contribute to atleast 10 percent of the entire car sales in India.

Well, New Delhi is a well publicized place but then Kolhapur in Maharashtra isn’t. It is more known for its wrestling bouts, sugar factories and also delicacies. However a lesser known part is that it is one of India’s highest per capita income places and moreover, there are more Mercedes cars in here and that too per thousand people that other places in India can even think of. However Kolhapur residents are more inclined towards the functionality aspect of SUVs than their outright form. One Rajesh Bhosale says that he is in the construction business and hence his job profile asks him to go for a powerful car which would have immense road presence as also go places where sedans wouldn’t dare to go. This was the reason why he chose a Mercedes GL SUV. There are some people like Sayaji Raje who chose the Fortuner just because it isn’t that expensive plus has an amazing ground clearance. He says that he isn’t concerned about the rising fuel prices as this SUV is a diesel model and since diesel prices don’t tend to fluctuate that much, he is a happy man. One of the owners of a Toyota dealership in Kolhapur says that even though its basically a village in its appearance, Kolhapur city has got plenty of cash reserves due to the textile businesses, engineering, sugar production and many other businesses. The owner also said that he sells about 5 times more Fortuners than what he sold in 2009 when the SUV was just launched. Debashish Mitra, the Director of Marketing and Sales for Mercedes India said that the growing income level in Kolhapur reflects the way SUV sales have taken off in this city.

Bangalore may be known as the IT hub of India however few would know that there are many industrialists, IT executives and also sports enthusiasts who buy SUVs here. Moreover, the entire Bangalore area has got a much faster SUV growing base than the other regions in South India. One of the sales managers from Hyundai India says that Bangloreans have booked about half the allocation of Santa Fes coming to India. However Bangalore people aren’t as crazy about higher end SUVs and hence settle for the lower spectrum ones like Scorpio, Xylo and also the rudimentary Bolero. Greater disposable income and also international exposure has led Bangloreans to chose SUVs over other cars.

Well, when its time of talking about wealth who can forget the Gujjus? The diamond city of Gujarat, Surat is a very congested city. There is hardly any place for even walking on the footpaths. However, even while walking, you would notice that there is a SUV honking behind you. Big is beautiful is the motto that the Surat people believe in. As a style statement, the latest new brigade SUVs from BMW, Mercedes and also Audi are a rage in here. Govind Bhagat, the Chairman of Shree Ramkrishna Export says that he has a lineup of about 7 SUVs which include the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Touareg, Chevrolet Captiva and also Audi Q7. The rest of the vehicles are the ever dependable Honda CR-Vs. He has recently booked an Audi Q5 which would be delivered to him in only a week’s time. SUVs project the power and confidence of its owners and hence SUVs are the choice of wheels in Surat.

When you buy a SUV, the typical Indian question of “what’s its average?” fails badly. So the rising fuel prices have literally no effect on the sales of SUVs. In Mumbai, however the rules are a bit stricter and hence all those ultra rich people looking to flaunt their wealth mean machines cannot do so. They believe that the EDA is always breathing down their throats. In Mumbai, which is the homeland of Bollywood, actors prefer using SUVs since the SUVs provide for a lot of space thus allowing the actors to carry their luggage and assistants with them wherever they go for a shoot. Bollywood’s SUV love is hardly a secret. One of the costliest SUVs in the world, the Hummer is owned by Bollywood’s “Anna” Suniel Shetty. Out of the 200 foreign make vehicles which were registered last year, 30 percent were SUVs. Bollywood stars say that they prefer going for SUVs since they can also use them as a workplace. In the same vein, people from Ludhiana, Punjab insist that a rugged vehicle like a SUV is a must have in Punjab. This is because Punjabis are usually said to be tough people and a SUV further flaunts that image. Only last year, a dealer for Toyota said that he sold 557 of Toyota’s SUVs in Punjab. He said that there are many people who buy SUVs for their children, so that they can flaunt their image and wealth. He further added that it was not only for Toyota but for other companies as well that this rule applies. He says that about 20-24 SUVs are sold each month in Punjab. Most of the buyers are industrialists and the rest are rich farmers. People who are young at heart usually go for the SUVs. People feel far safer in a SUV than in a luxury sedan. Rising prices of fuel be damned is the general thought pervading across for SUV buyers.

There is an American song which goes by the lines

“ God bless my SUV
The first car in history
To start a war
Now don’t look at me with scorn
Or I will turn all your rice and corn into fuel
For my car that’s going
To destroy the earth entirely.
I don’t care for starving Africans
I’m an American…..
Born to be selfish from day one.
So don’t complain to me
About poverty or pollution
Just let me fill up my SUV….
So I can drive some more”

This song states the mind of American SUV buyers and its just that trend which is catching on for Indian buyers as well. So you see, the rising fuel prices are no big deal for SUV buyers.

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