There are no affordable 4x4s except Mahindra Thar in India

The numbers will tell the tale clearly and manufacturers won’t put an iota of money for something that won’t sell.

BHPian chatto63 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Folks, I was just asking why are Indian SUV manufacturers not prioritizing the launch of 4X4 SUVs a tad more luxury-oriented than the Thar – the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos sort of cars. Does anyone else have this question in his / her mind? I will be keen to hear.

Here’s what BHPian justwheels had to say on the matter:

Guess the answer to this question has often been conveyed by the consumer himself in India. Check how many Safaris and XUVs were sold in their 4X4 avatar vs the 4X2 version. How many buy the Compass Trail hawk version vs the 4X2 version. The numbers will tell the tale clearly and manufacturers won’t put an iota of money for something that won’t sell.

I don’t think offroading in India has picked up to a point where an average consumer needs 4×4. We don’t even have an overlanding culture that might warrant use of a 4X4 sitting in luxury. The hardcore offroaders need modifiable vehicles (read Thar or Gypsy).

So I don’t really see any reason why manufacturers will put in effort to launch one. Well would I want it? Of course yes but I will have to wait for eternity or earn enough to afford a Wrangler in India. Till then I am happy with Thar.

Here’s what BHPian Sanidhya mukund had to say on the matter:

One simple reason I can think of is that a 4X4 is not really a necessity anymore. When my grandfather had started his medical practice in the 1950s, he often had to go to nearby villages to attend to serious patients who needed immediate help and couldn’t come to the city. For this, he had purchased a used 1940s Plymouth. Back in those days, roads were non-existent, there was tremendous amount of slush and mud in rural areas as a result of which, his Plymouth always used to get stuck. A 4X4 was a must. As a solution, he sold the Plymouth and bought one of the earliest Mahindra-Willys jeeps. Soon, quite a lot of people in those areas became Jeep owners.

As our roads improved, 4X4 no longer remained a necessity. People soon realised that they no longer have to put up with bumpy leaf springs of an archaic Jeep. The mass market now looked for sleek cars, and people happily bought Heralds, Padminis and Gazels.

Coming back to the present, the market for a 4X4 is very tiny. Today, the major demand comes from the armed forces, the police and maybe a few off-road enthusiasts who like to participate in events or go on fun expeditions. Very rarely do you come across somebody who absolutely NEEDS to have 4X4.

The other category of buyers are those who buy this type of vehicle not because they need a rough and tough vehicle, but because they love the way it looks. If I were to buy a Thar today, it would be only for the styling and retro looks.

Thus as you can see, 4X4s are no longer a mass market thing. They are niche products with a minuscule market, and hence manufacturers don’t bother with them. The Thar is a one off example, it sells because it is a true “Jeep”.

If Maruti launches the Jimmy here, that also might sell because of the brand recall of the Gypsy. But if for example, Hyundai comes up with a boxy 4X4 / off-roader, I don’t think many people will buy one. No mass market player will bother with something that doesn’t get their cash registers ringing.

Another thing is, most cars today are monocoque. I guess it would be a daunting task to incorporate 4X4 into the development of a mass market crossover, and would require tremendous investments. Suppose if Kia were to launch a 4X4 Seltos, the Monocoque would require a significant amount of modifications to accommodate the 4X4 hardware. Even if they manage to do this, the market is not likely to buy the 4X4 in large quantities, thus making the investments redundant.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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