Last year, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) made public its intention to grab 15 per cent of the total global market share in cars by 2010. Considering the size of the potential market in India, increasing its market share here could fast pedal it towards realising this target. Against this backdrop, it was a given that TMC would introduce its bestselling model, the Corolla, hot on the heels of the Camry, which hit Indian roads last year. The Indian market is key to our global strategy in terms of its potential and its position, said Yoshio Ishizaka, executive vice-president, TMC, at the recent launch of the Corolla in Delhi.
The Corolla is currently selling in over 140 countries, and its arrival here met with a warm response. Says automotive expert Murad Ali Baig, In India, the Corolla is more popular than the name Toyota. When a car has sold over 30 million units worldwide, the very volumes speak for its performance. The Corolla accounts for 25 per cent of Toyota car sales globally. It has every reason to do well here in India as well, Mr Baig comments.
The model introduced in India is a ninth generation Corolla. It will be built at Toyota Kirloskars plant at Bidadi in Karnataka. This generation of the Corolla has been totally developed from scrach, remarks Atsushi Toyoshima, managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motors. Design, performance and comfort are the key aspects of this Corolla and it has all three in equal measure, Mr Toyoshima asserts confidently.
Commenting on the comfort issue, Mr Baig says, Yes, it has a longer wheel base than the other cars in the category, such as the Skoda Octavia. Its height is even more. Not just its measurements, but features such as the auto air-conditioner; 60/40 rear split seats, which can be folded up for more space; console box underneath the front arm rest, and the six-CD music system also add to the five-seater Corollas comfort quotient.
As for performance, Toyota has no qualms in boasting about the 1.8 litre, DOHC, VVT-i engine. To make it simpler for the layman, VVT-i stands for Toyotas proprietary Variable Valve Timing-intelligent technology. This technology enables powerful torque delivery even at low to medium engine rpm (revolutions per minute) by optimising valve timing. It also provides smooth acceleration through continuous optimisation, enhanced fuel economy and reduced emissions. The engine has an output of 125 horsepower with a torque of 16.1 kg-m.
Another key feature of the Corolla is safety. All four wheels have disc brakesventilated discs in the front and solid discs in the rear. Plus, there are SRS airbags for the driver and passenger, and a Global Outstanding Assessment (GOA) body, which comprises a high integrity cabin with front and rear crumple zones that absorb the impact energy in a collision. To minimise damage and protect the driver and passengers, the cabin structure has also been hardened with strategically placed reinforcements.
Three variants of the Corolla have been introduced in the Indian market. The five-speed manual Corolla 1.8J is the low end model, coming at a price of Rs 9.80 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The Corolla 1.8E, which is also a five-speed manual, costs Rs 10.80 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi); this is the mid model.
The top end Corolla 1.8G is a four-speed automatic. This model offers you the option of choosing fabric or leather seats, which varies the price by Rs 50,000. The Corolla 1.8G (fabric) costs Rs 11.50 lakh. So, yes, the leather seat version is expensive. Says another automotive expert Ranojoy Mukerji, That much of a price difference between the two, just based on the leather option, doesnt seem to be justified. For those of you interested in colours, the Corolla will be available in five colours: white pearl mica metallic, dark blue mica metallic, silver metallic, green mica metallic and super white.
Mr Toyoshima said at the launch, We are planning to have 10,000 smiles on our customers faces in the year 2003. That does not seem to be such a tall order when you consider the success Toyota enjoys globally, and the record sales that the Corolla has notched up elsewhere in the world.