According to reports, Renault and Honda have withheld selling their MPVs to fleet owners which usually translates into higher volumes with discounts in initial launch stages. Both brands have controlled this urge to keep a taxi image at bay for their vehicles but pressure is growing with a drop in consumer sales.
According to experts, customers are now preferring sport-utility vehicles and this is slowly leaving multi-purpose vehicles behind. In October, a month when the auto industry witnessed growth in sales figures, Honda did not manufacture the Mobilio, its flagship MPV launched only 16 months earlier. Renault made only a single Lodgy which was launched in April 2015. Inventory volumes of these models were huge and this led to halts in production.
At the same time, monthly sales of the Toyota Innova and Maruti Ertiga have dropped to anywhere between 4, 000-5, 000 cars from an average of 6, 500 units till a few years back. The Chevrolet Enjoy and Tavera and the Mahindra Xylo have also witnessed a steep drop in their sales figures. Mobilio’s average monthly sales volumes have gone down to around 890 units while Lodgy is selling approximately 800 units in a month. Both companies have not opened up sales to fleet owners to scale up volumes in a bid to combat the taxi image for their vehicles.
Additionally, several SUV options have been eating into the MPV segment. Sales of MPVs have gone down by 19% overall as compared to last year. Personal usage figures of MPVs witnessed an even steeper drop by a whopping 45%. According to experts, the MPV segment is utilitarian while the SUV space is now both utilitarian and aspirational and hence this is eating into the segment. Intra-city movement is also restricted and this is taking a toll on the MPV market as well.
However, the MPV market should bounce back according to experts when investments take place in roads and infrastructure. The announcement of smart cities may spark a revival. Renault has already committed towards bringing out a new variant of the Lodgy for the fleet market. Honda has no such plan as of yet and is looking at keeping production numbers and inventory reasonably healthy. Market sources say that the segment should remain stifled for at least a couple of years till Hyundai introduces its own competitor into the market. SUVs at similar price brackets are eating into MPV sales. The new Innova for 2016 and the face lifted version of Ertiga launched by Maruti may revive sales a little in this segment.