On June 6, 2019, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) forayed into the premium hatchback segment with the Glanza — a rebadged version of Maruti Suzuki Baleno, and the first model exchanged under the global tie-up between Toyota and Suzuki. A year on, and with over 25,000 units sold, TKM says it has developed a learning set needed to succeed in this segment (in 2010, the company had launched the Etios Liva hatchback, but it couldn’t get popular with personal car buyers; the car was discontinued earlier this year).
Some co-badged cars — Nissan Sunny and Renault Scala, Nissan Micra and Renault Pulse — haven’t succeeded in India, so TKM knew that to make the Glanza popular, both the ‘experience’ and the ‘offering’ will need to be different from the Baleno.
So, the Glanza wasn’t launched in a bare-bones variant, and TKM offered a standard 3-year/1-lakh-km warranty (the Baleno came with a 2-year/40,000-km warranty).
A unique set of customers
Within two months of launch, TKM saw a unique set of customers at its dealerships, says Naveen Soni, senior vice-president, Sales & Service, TKM. “Over 60% of early Glanza buyers were non-Toyota customers.” For others, the Glanza became the second Toyota in their home.
“It taught our dealers how to deal with this class of customers, and helped us gain insights into the premium hatchback segment, where we would like to place more products in the future,” adds Soni.
Over the year, 70% of Glanza sales happened in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, and 30% in smaller cities and rural areas.
A contribution of the Glanza to the premium hatchback segment is the impact on total sales — while it sold 25,000 units, these numbers didn’t come at the cost of the Baleno. “At Toyota, we call it 1+1=3, i.e. we have placed a product in the segment and helped it expand by 2,000-odd units per month, and that too in a shrinking market,” he says.
Since last month when the lockdown started getting eased and dealerships opened, TKM has seen yet another set of customers showing interest in the Glanza.
“This customer is not typically the one who will have two cars in the house. She had one car, and the other car’s requirement was usually fulfilled by shared mobility or public transport. But now, due to social distancing norms, she is opening up to the idea of a second car,” says Soni.
Glanza for taxi segment?
A considerable chunk of Etios Liva sales came from the fleet segment, and now with that car having exited the market, how will TKM cater to this demand? Soni says TKM won’t tinker with the Glanza, but there is a possibility of using the Yaris, the sedan, to meet the exact requirements of the taxi customer, including maybe a CNG variant of the sedan.
Glanza and Baleno
Both the Glanza and Baleno are the biggest premium hatchback cars in India (slightly bigger than Hyundai Elite i20, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo). While both look the same save for badging — even the alloy wheel design is similar — the Glanza gets a two-slat chrome grille while the Baleno’s grille has a 3D graphic design.
The cabin is similar; the only differences are badging and that Toyota calls its infotainment system Smart Playcast while Maruti calls its Smartplay Studio.
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