Maruti Suzuki has managed to bag over 55,000 bookings for the Grand Vitara compact SUV, whose prices will be announced in days from now. Waiting times for certain variants of the Grand Vitara has hit 5.5 months. The waiting time could be pushed up further if Maruti gets a deluge of bookings after the price announcement happens. Maruti Suzuki’s Grand Vitara will challenge the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos for leadership status in India’s compact SUV segment. The Grand Vitara is similar to the just-launched Toyota Hyryder Urban Cruiser, and both cars are essentially badge-engineered versions of each other.
Like the Hyryder, the Grand Vitara will be sold with mild hybrid and strong hybrid powertrains. Both SUVs offer diesel-like fuel efficiency (around 28 Kmpl) in their strong hybrid variants, and can also be driven in all-electric mode for 25 kilometers – a first in segment feature. They’re also the first strong hybrid compact SUVs in India. The mild hybrid manual variants of both the Maruti Grand Vitara and Toyota Hyryder also get all-wheel drive – another best-in-class feature.
Toyota builds both SUVs at its Bidadi factory near Bangalore. However, sales and service for both SUVs will be handled separately – by Nexa dealers for Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota’s regular dealers across India for the Hyryder. Both Maruti Suzuki and Toyota will introduce more strong hybrid cars in the Indian market over the next few years. The idea is to sell strong hybrid cars as an alternative to diesel engined cars.
While Maruti Suzuki has completely dumped diesel engines from its car line-up, and now sells mild hybrid, strong hybrid and CNG cars, Toyota does have diesel engines on its Innova Crysta and Fortuner. The next-gen models of the Innova and Fortuner are also likely to dump diesels in favour of strong hybrids. In fact, Toyota’s top-end MPV – the Vellfire – is sold as a petrol strong hybrid and it’s just a matter of time before Toyota’s mass market range also hits the strong-hybrid button. Strong hybrids produce less emission than diesels, and will make meeting the upcoming real time driving emission (RDE) norms in 2023, a lot easier for both Tayota and Maruti Suzuki. Strong hybrids are also smoother than diesels, while offer comparable fuel efficiency. They also offer full-electric modes for limited distances – a boon for short city commutes. All in all, strong hybrids could be a great bridge technology before automakers go full-electric or start offering hydrogen powered cars.