Toyota has capacity to manufacture 310,000 vehicles at its two plants located near Bengaluru
Toyota plans to make India a larger export base by shipping left-hand drive cars from the country. The Indian subsidiary of the world's second largest automobile maker produces only right-hand drive cars and exports some of them.
"We produce right-hand drive cars in Indian plants. We want to be an export hub for left-hand drive vehicles," Akito Tachibana, managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told Business Standard in an interaction.
The market for right-hand drive cars is limited because most countries drive on the right. Two of Toyota's large markets, Thailand and Indonesia, have right-hand drive but the company has large manufacturing capacities in these countries.
Toyota has the capacity to manufacture 310,000 vehicles in India at its two plants located in the outskirts of Bengaluru. The company sold 156,112 vehicles in the year ended March 31, 2017, leaving scope to ramp up exports. Toyota's exports from India were 12,748 vehicles.
Tachibana said the expansion of exports from India had to be based on production of left-hand drive cars.
"It is needed to sell to the Middle East and most other countries," he said. Toyota exports the Etios sedan to South Africa and the Innova Crysta and Fortuner to neighbouring markets.
"We are appealing to our headquarters to allow us to explore left-hand drive markets. We also need to improve our costs though we meet the desired quality standards," said Tachibana.
Some investment will also be needed to make the Indian units ready for production of left-hand drive vehicles.
Global automobile majors now admit cars made in India are competitive in cost as well as quality.
India shipped 758,830 cars, vans and utility vehicles to various export markets in 2016-17, up 16 per cent over the previous year. One in five cars made in the country finds its way to a foreign market.
South Korean car maker Hyundai, American automobile major Ford, Maruti Suzuki and Nissan are the leading exporters. Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen export more vehicles from India than they sell in the country.
General Motors recently decided to stop selling cars in India but it will export cars made in the country. Last year, 85 per cent of GM's India-made cars were exported.