Toyota Kirloskar Motor, an Indian subsidiary of Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corp, is actively considering a plan to introduce a mid-size sedan in the Indian market. The new sedan will be positioned between its entry-level sedan Toyota Etios and its very popular Toyota Corolla Altis.
“Our priority is to keep our customers with us. We have given feedback to our parent company. They have identified the gap between Etios and Corolla Altis, which is huge. They are working on bridging this gap,” N Raja, senior vice president, sales division, Toyota Kirloskar Motor told FE.
He said the company is working on identifying a model that can be introduced in India between the Etios and Corolla Altis. “It will be a global platform not just for India but for the entire Asia Pacific markets,” he said.
Admitting that Toyota has been a slow mover in the Indian passenger car market in terms of introducing newer models compared to the competition, Raja said, “We will study the market thoroughly and bring out new models as and when necessary.” He also ruled out a possibility of launching a small sports utility vehicle to compete with the likes of Ford Ecosport, Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster of Maruti Brezza at this point in time.
“Our parent (Toyota Motor Corp, Japan) is working on a new sedan model. Normally, any model development and launch will take 3-4 years time,” he added.
It is not the first time that Toyota has talked about bringing a mid-size sedan for India. More than two years ago, it had announced that it was developing a new model. Though Toyota entered the Indian market way back in 1998, it launched its first made in India entry-level sedan Toyota Etios in 2010.
Mid-size sedans are most sought after in India as the prices of these cars are in the range of R8 lakh to R12 lakh. The market is currently ruled by Honda City, Hyundai Verna and Maruti Ciaz besides Volkswagen Vento.
According to SIAM, the sales of these models grew 5% to touch 162,180 units in 2015-16 compared to 154,702 units in the previous year. Around half the market is captured by Honda Cars, which sold 77,548 units of its popular sedan Honda City in FY16. Maruti is also fast gaining market with its new sedan Ciaz. During the first four months of 2016, Ciaz sales stood at 21,775 units.
Toyota has enough capacity at two of its production facilities at Bidadi near Bengaluru. Both its plants have a combined capacity of 310,000 units per annum. It is currently manufacturing Innova Crysta, Fortuner, Corolla Altis, Etios, Liva and Cross, Camry and Camry Hybrid. It imports Prado, Land Cruiser and Prius as completely built units (CBUs) and sells in the country.