Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) has announced that it will not bring out any new models for the next three years and will focus its efforts on improving the Etios and the Liva brands. Toyota’s deputy managing director marketing Sandeep Singh, confirmed this with few other details about the company’s future plans.
Toyota has two plants in Bangalore – the older plant produces the Innova and the Fortuner, while the new state-of-art facility builds Etios twins and Corolla. The company still imports all its diesel engines from Japan and has no plans to assemble them here till the government clarifies policies for diesel pricing. On the other hand, the company has started localising petrol engines of the Etios range.
Toyota India has expanded its production capacity to 3,10,000 units per annum, which will be used starting next year. The company projects an annual sales of around 1,70,000 units this year and is planning to increase exports to counter depreciating Rupee and strong Yen.
TKM is unfazed by the growing competition and has no plans to launch new vehicles in near future. The company will instead work on building existing models. Toyota believes that the Etios twins have the basics to succeed in India and just require bit more time and fine tuning. This has been the case with most Toyota products – apart from Fortuner, all Toyota products including the Qualis were slow movers at the start.
In this regard Sandeep said “There is potential for growth in the compact SUV segment. So, it will do well for some years. Our competitors are launching models and it will have some bearing initially. We are not entering this segment. Our customers are loyal customers and we are here not for short- term but the long- term."
The Etios twins will receive facelifts next year. Toyota has been collecting feedbacks from its customers and will update both the sedan and the hatchback. The changes will be mainly cosmetic with noticeable improvements to the interiors.
TKM believes is extensive study before launch of new product in any country. The same is the case with India specific Etios and Liva. The car has got the basics right with pricing, fuel efficiency and low maintenance cost and hopefully will get better on other parameters as well.
The company is not looking to build a larger transverse diesel mill, so we can’t expect a diesel version of the Camry in near future. Also the Toyota way of improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions issues globally is with usage of hybrid technology and not diesel. So if the government announces hybrid friendly policies, we might see hybrid Toyota small cars in long run.
Unfortunately even the plans to introduce Lexus have been put on hold, mainly due to additional customs duty announced in the last year’s budget.
Apart from meeting with Mr Singh, we also visited Toyota’s new plant, which is rated as their best facility in Asia Pacific. The plant follows all the company’s principals of using minimum resources, strict quality control and environment friendly approach. The same plant also supports the Corolla Altis operations that have slowed down a bit in last few months.