The grand-old Ambassador car was earlier the symbol of ‘power’ and the most trusted vehicle for election campaigns for the political elite. But, for the modern day political leaders, ‘nothing else than a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) will do’.
Leaders consider SUV an all terrain campaign vehicle, as it can carry more workers and even double up as a ‘status icon’.
Thanks to the Lok Sabha elections, the sale of SUVs or the ‘mean machines’ has increased manifold in the country. This is perhaps why SUV dealers in the city, and even those in other parts of the State, are smiling as the demand for these vehicles is spiralling north.
The spike in sales has come as a shot in the arm for the vehicle manufacturers, particularly Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors. This, at a time when the automobile industry is hit hard by global meltdown. Statistics show that during May 2004, the country witnessed sale of 12,336 SUVs.
With new political parties fuelling their aspirations to become national players and a greater choice of models and variants of SUVs in different price segments on offer, the number of vehicles sold in the run up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls is likely to break all records.
For instance, the nation’s biggest sports utility vehicle manufacturer — M&M — has already registered a sales growth of 17 per cent and 25 per cent in February and March 2009, respectively comparing to the corresponding period last year, said Rohit Kumar, sales manager, Sonali Autos.
"There is a backlog for 100 Xylos, which is proving to be a second Nano for us,” said Rohit, while expressing his inability to meet customers’ demand. “Our dealership has already sold 141 Boleros, but only 11 Xylos owing to supply constraint,” he said.
The sale of SUVs of Tata Motors has also jumped up by 43 per cent in March over February, said M N Murtaza Zami, manager of Guinea Motors.
“We have been able to sell 40 vehicles, including 15 Safaris, 20 Sumo Victas and 5 Sumo Grandes in March. This is more than our expectation of clocking a sale of 30 vehicles in the month,” he said.
While Scorpio, Safari, Sumo, Xylo and Bolero, and even Innova, fit the bill as a preferred choice of politicians, the well heeled among them go for Ford Endeavour, GM Captiva, Honda CRV, Lexus, Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Prado that are bought and brought from other states.
The number of SUVs lined up at the offices of various political parties, election rallies and functions are only a grim reminder that the ‘king of the road’ is an integral part of political showmanship but when it comes to the great Indian ‘Election Tamasha’, there is no more apt tagline than the one for the Scorpio —‘Nothing Else Will Do’.