Will traditional sedans ever make a comeback in India?

Considering the substantial investments in highway projects and the development of new expressways, the quality of roads is progressively improving. In light of these advancements, do you foresee any possibility that, within the next five years, the era of sedans might experience a resurgence?

BHPian im_chandan recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

In Indian auto industry, it’s evident that SUVs currently dominate market with a substantial 53% share, and this dominance is continually expanding. On the flip side, sedan sales are consistently declining, with only a few models remaining on the market. This decline is causing a noticeable reduction in the driving pleasure that sedans traditionally offer.

Yesterday, within my office campus, there was a display for the Skoda Slavia. My friend and I decided to explore the Slavia, even though he had already booked the new facelifted Nexon’s top model. The salesman suggested that if my friend test-drove the Slavia that day, he might consider canceling his Nexon booking.

Now, turning to the broader question: considering the substantial investments in highway projects and the development of new expressways, the quality of roads is progressively improving. In light of these advancements, do you foresee any possibility that, within the next five years, the era of sedans might experience a resurgence?

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Nope. And this isn’t just for India, the sedan bodystyle is suffering a global decline. So much so that Ford abandoned it in USA.

For any bodystyle to make a “comeback”, it has to offer significant advantages. But sedans lose out to crossovers in terms of GC, seating position and (arguably) styling. Because it’s a dying segment, even the product choices get slimmer. Corolla, Civic, Accord, Teana, Elantra etc. are all dead.

While the Rs. 15 – 50 lakh sedan segment is either declining or dead, there are two exceptions:

  • Entry level segment which is very price sensitive. Sedans will continue to sell here (I’m looking at you, Dzire). Plus, there is enormous demand here from Uber & Ola.
  • Unbelievably, the high-end segment. Audi, BMW, Mercedes are all happily selling very healthy sedan volumes. Example, the S-Class is still the S-Class and the GLS isn’t even close to it in luxury or opulence. The 3-Series is still the car of choice for enthusiasts.

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

Also to add – sedans also take up significantly more real estate, causing parking challenges in apartments and city areas.

Height is less of a concern for most people than length.

Here’s what BHPian dr.AD had to say on the matter:

I do not think the trend has to do anything with the road quality. For example, as GTO said in his reply, even in the USA, where the roads are excellent and sedan is never a problem from road quality point of view, the sedans are on a sharp decline. Further, even in India, many of the people who are buying these so called baby SUVs or crossovers usually just use those in city (office commutes or mall visits on weekends) and their decision to buy that vehicle is not because of highway qualities across India.

I think it is more of a style statement and a fashion to buy a SUV or a crossover. Something that has got an aspirational value today that the mainstream sedans lost.

Talking about road qualities, yes I agree with you that highway infrastructure is developing fast in India. Myself and many of my friends in my driving circle have done plenty of sedan driving all across India and none of us think there is much of an issue. We love driving sedans on Indian highways. But we are a minority. The general people do not look at these road surfaces to decide their vehicle purchases. That is decided by what is the current fashion, and that is SUVs and crossovers, not sedans.

The high-end sedans are still selling well (maybe even selling more than ever before), because they still have that aspirational value!

I think the mainstream sedans (Civics, Corollas etc) have lost that aspirational value globally. And that is the main reason for this trend. This aspirational value is very subjective and often driven by marketing campaigns, trends and peer pressure too.

And that is why I am hesitant to comment on the future. Who knows, if some smart OEM launches a beautiful mass-market sedan at affordable price and markets it well, and purposefully creates an aspirational value for that sedan, it may sell well and the sedans can come back! Fashion has a funny habit of repeating the trends after a few decades.

I would not be surprised if say over next 10 years, people just get bored of the SUVs and crossovers, and then some new sedan suddenly offers a breath of fresh air, and the sedan trend comes back. Hard to predict the future.

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

I believe there is always going to be a market for sedans. They may not be the dominant body style going forward, but plenty of people appreciate the low slung three box design. Just something organically appealing about it. It is timeless.

One must understand that automakers have deliberately favoured the crossovers over sedans, not updating sedans enough with time. Itโ€™s a strategy to get you spend more for a smaller product. Relevant and competent sedans like new Verna and Virtus have brought love back to what was a dying segment. It is up to manufacturers to provide an up to date and genuinely competent product. Honda City type laid back approach will only result in long term decline.

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

I told a friend of mine a few years ago to pick up a sedan instead of a crossover because it’s a visibly larger vehicle for the same price – Size Matters. Between a Sub4M crossover and a Sedan , I recommend the sedan.

However given how Rolls Royce had to make an SUV, there is no stopping this trend now. If anyone has been to Mysuru for Dasara , every vehicle with Sunroof had someone through the roof , looking happily at all the festivities and lighting all over the city, I have to admit it can only be enjoyed topless.

At one point we were counting the number of people who were through the ‘roof’ there was one car that had 6 kids! Winner. By the way they extended Dasara festivities to one more week, so don’t miss it, drive down and enjoy it.

I think making SUVs allow the OEMs to go easy on driving dynamics, the expectations are already set , same goes for fuel efficiency etc, they spend less to make the vehicle , you spend more to run it but everyone is happy in the end.

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

I maybe a dinosaur but even the most dynamically sorted SUVs are just not fun to drive as sedans; they are also unnecessarily bulky, heavy and generally ugly.

I don’t think sedans will make a comeback as in take over the SUVs but I really hope that they continue to exist in a significant number for those like me to continue to drive them.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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