'Yaris is our answer to the volume segment sedans. Since the car comes with lots of industry-first features like seven airbags, all four disc-breaks, automatic version even in base models, we hope to repeat what the Corolla has done to the premium sedan segment with Yaris,' D Raja, deputy MD for sales & service at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told PTI.
Photographs and video: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.
Toyota is planning to play it big on the volume side by entering the mid-segment sedans with its globally successful car ‘Yaris’.
If they price it right, Yaris -- which will be pegged as a B-segment sedan -- will give a tough competition to the industry leaders like Honda's City and Hyundai's Verna, according to analysts.
"We see high market potential with growing population of Indian middle class families aspiring for more advanced features like safety, space, luxury and comfort," Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s MD Akito Tachibana told reports at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida last week.
"Yaris is our answer to the volume segment sedans. Since the car comes with lots of industry-first features like seven airbags, all four disc-breaks, automatic version even in base models, we hope to repeat what the Corolla has done to the premium sedan segment with Yaris," D Raja, deputy MD for sales & service at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told PTI.
The B-segment sedans average a 15,000-18,000 units a month or two lakh units a year and is a key market for premium players, Raja said. When asked about pricing, Raja said it is yet to be decided but added that it will be on par with the market or even lower, depending on the localisation they will be able to attain.
"We haven't decided on the price as the launch itself is not decided yet," he said.
For the Japanese rival Honda, City has been and is still the flagship and both in terms of volume and brand recall, while with the new Verna Hyundai has had gained some big traction and for a few months it had even overtaken City, which is the segment leader.
But for the full year of 2017, City topped the segment with a monthly average of 4,000 units with Verna too running a close race.
The other differentiators of the car which will be rolled out from its Bengaluru facility in a few months, are roof-mounted air vents for the rear passengers, a power seat for the driver, Raja said, adding that the car comes with 1.5-litre petrol engine.
When asked about the impact of the Budget on its business, especially the imported hybrid units, Raja said since the GST rollout, even the domestically made Camry hybrid volumes had plunged.
"We were averaging 100 units a month with Camry hybrid. This had plunged to 20-25 after the GST rollout on high taxation.
“Since November, it has improved to 40 a month. But still this is not a sustainable volume," Raja said.
On the overall volume front, he said the company had sold 1.4 lakh units last fiscal year with a growth of 6-7 per cent over the previous year.
The industry is growing at 9 per cent and "we hope to reflect that level in our volume too", he added.
The new Innova still drives its volumes at about 72,000 units in 2017, yanking up a market share of close to 40 per cent, while the premium Fortuner clocked around 24,000 units which is 75 per cent of the segment and Corolla averaging 5,000 units with 45 per cent of the market pie in the segment.