Toyota plans to challenge Maruti, Hyundai dominance with its ‘safest, fuel efficient’ small car

Toyota Kirloskar, which failed to make major inroads in the small car space, is banking on the integration work between Daihatsu and Toyota which will start in full swing, to target the Indian A and B segment car space.

MUMBAI: The Indian subsidiary of the world’s largest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corporation, is planning to build India’s safest small car, which the company claimed will be the most fuel-efficient and value-for-money for Indian car buyers, and challenge the might of Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India in this space.

Toyota Kirloskar, which failed to make major inroads in the small car space, is banking on the integration work between Daihatsu and Toyota which will start in full swing, to target the Indian A and B segment car space.

Akito Tachibana, MD of Toyota Kirloskar, told ET that he is excited about the involvement of Daihatsu Toyota in the collaborative activity. “The most favourable story for us is that cars developed by Daihatsu will be made for the local market and at an affordable price. We will begin research to assess customer expectations in each market to define the concept of a vehicle before any development.”

Toyota Kirloskar introduced Etios and Liva compact cars designed for India but these models did little for the company. This will be yet another attempt by Toyota to enter the small car space, thanks to Daihatsu’s low-cost technology.

Toyota plans to challenge Maruti, Hyundai dominance with its ‘safest, fuel efficient’ small carToyota plans to challenge Maruti, Hyundai dominance with its ‘safest, fuel efficient’ small car – Image

Tachibana, who had been in product planning in the past, is giving two briefs to his development team — the car should be the safest and it should have a pure hybrid solution. He, however, declined to give out further specifics such as timeline, etc. Toyota has been exploring a small car and a compact MPV and SUV for India, but they will only come after BS-VI regulations are implemented by April 2020, said people familiar with the matter.

Asked if Toyota will be able to compete on price and volume with Maruti and Hyundai, Tachibana said the focus will be on bringing a value-for money car, which will be technologically advanced. “Volume is not our priority. We look at how to make a better car in the market.”

Tachibana questioned the idea of continuing with sub-4 metre regulations.

In the future, small car development will find it difficult to meet crash norms, CAFE norms, etc. “Crash zone and engine compartment will get bigger in the next five years.

“It harms the space for passengers — that is not an ideal situation (in a sub-4 metre car). We would like to make cars for the family — that is our objective,” Tachibana explained.

With the government pushing for electric and hybrid cars, Toyota is planning to bring in small hybrid vehicles in the future. As a first step, the car company will be bringing in the locally produced Corolla hybrid in the next 12-18 months.

Tachibana reckoned that among small cars, especially in the B segment, hybrid could be a strong alternative to diesel, which will become expensive post BSVI in 2020. “We do have a solution for Vios and Yaris hybrid in Europe. Current technology is very expensive, maybe we can introduce B segment hybrid post BSVI — the hybrid cost will be equal to a diesel car,” he explained.

Hit by a 2-litre diesel ban, Toyota Kirloskar has made a decent comeback with the new Innova and Fortuner.

The company is likely to bring in the new Corolla Altis, a new mid-size segment sedan to take on Honda City, and is also likely to introduce the Lexus brand in India, which will come with a hybrid alternative.

Tachibana declined to comment on future product plans.

Source: ET Auto 

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