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This week in Auto: Triumph launches Trident 660, Hyundai unwraps Alcazar, do we really need huge 7-seaters?

Here is what made headlines during the week in the auto space

April 10, 2021 / 06:54 PM IST

Bigger the better seems to be the mantra when it comes to automobiles. Buyers are increasingly veering towards larger vehicles that offer a sizable road presence and are assumed to be more practical than the rest. But are they really used for the purpose they are built? We take a look today at this aspect in the weekly wrap. But first here is what made headlines during the week in the auto space.

Automakers fight to keep plants operational

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India is proving to be worse than the first and has forced automakers to desperately try and keep the upward momentum going.

Carmakers, two-wheeler manufacturers, and parts suppliers have stepped up their Covid-19 safety protocols and other regulations to avoid a replay of the series of shutdowns of last year that severely crippled production.

Triumph launches Trident 660 in India

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Triumph has finally launched their newest entry-level bike in the country, the Trident 660.

The new Trident is Triumph’s street-naked bike on offer in India at a price of Rs 6.95 lakh ex-showroom

Ashok Leyland to expand EV business in India

Ashok Leyland through its subsidiary Switch Mobility, the U.K. based producer of electric buses and electric vans announced its global expansion plans into India and its plan to create two subsidiary companies.

The first, Switch Mobility Automotive, is being formed to carry on the electric vehicle (EV) strategy in India, which forms part of its global entity.

FADA says auto registration down 29% in March

The Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) released its vehicle registration data for March 2021 on April 8.

As per the data released, March auto registrations continued to fall by 28.64 percent year-on-year (YoY) but grew 10.05 percent month-on-month (MoM).

Hyundai unveils Alcazar

Hyundai will launch the Creta-based Alcazar sports utility vehicle in May to take on the newly launched Tata Safari. Bookings of the vehicle is expected to open over the next few weeks.

Available in seating configurations of six and seven, Alcazar aims to further fuel demand for SUVs whose share has become one-third in India’s passenger vehicle market.

Do we really need 7-seater SUVs?

Hyundai, India’s second-biggest carmaker, will launch its first seven-seater sports utility vehicle Alcazar possibly in May to add to the growing demand for SUVs in India which as of now looks insatiable. A few weeks ago, Tata Motors, India’s third-largest car brand, launched its own seven-seater called Safari. In between MG Motor introduced the seven-seater Hector Plus.

Each of these three models are elongated version of the existing five-seater models. The Alcazar is based on the Creta, the Safari is based on the Harrier while the Hector Plus is based on the Hector. They have been added with two front-facing seats in the rear of the vehicle where the large boot once existed. In the case of the Alcazar, the vehicle platform had to be stretched to accommodate the extra seats.

Mahindra, meanwhile, has unveiled the name of its new SUV which will also be a seven-seater. Called the XUV700 the new SUV will have a handful of rivals when it goes on sale in Q2 of FY22.

But why are automakers adding extra seats in the age of nuclear or single parent families with high chances of never using those added seats during journeys?

As per a senior executive at Hyundai, the need to have two more seats in the rear have reasons beyond their practicality purpose. “It is quite possible that not all the seven seats will be used every time the vehicle is taken out. But we decided to offer the Alcazar only after we asked buyers to tell us if they would buy a bigger Creta. And most of them said yes”, said the executive.

A bigger SUV than the average five-seater SUV means and SUV with a bigger road presence. Quite simply put, whatever attributes a five-seater SUV could generate, a seven-seater will add more of it. This is even if the practicality of a bigger SUV might not exceed a five-seater.

For instance, if two extra seats are added to the rear, it leaves negligible space for luggage. Forget the seven occupants, there won’t be space for even a bag that is large enough to digest clothes of three. The two extra seats will have to be folded down to create more room. In some cases, the extra room is more than twice the size of boot space if the seats were upright.

“At best, all the seven seats will be occupied only when the group is doing short distance like taking kids to a playground or adults to relative’s house or travelling to office. Having seven seats in the vehicle is just for reassuring the owner that there are seven seats in the vehicle he owns and can be used whenever needed”, added another carmaker.

From having a single digit market share just a few years ago, SUVs command a share of 33 percent as at the end of FY21. Which means that every third vehicle sold in India is an SUV. It is already the second largest segment behind hatchbacks after having overtaken sedans sometime ago.

But seven-seaters are not entirely alien to India. The Toyota Innova, Chevrolet Tavera, Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, Mahindra Bolero and Chevrolet Enjoy are and were seven-seaters. But none of them were SUVs. The primary task of these vehicles were to transport people and were thus heavily used in the taxi segment.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Apr 10, 2021 11:28 am

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