Toyota Etios sedan bookings touch 12,000

Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) has received 12,000 booking orders of Etios sedan since its launch 15 days ago on December 1st 2010. That, sadly, might mean a long wait of over 6 months for many buyer.

The company has developed Toyota Etios for BRIC market. Etios chief design engineer, Yoshinori Noritake told Reuters that the number of orders is far bigger than he had personally anticipated. Toyota doesn’t even have the car in the showrooms yet.

The overwhelming demand for Etios makes the company’s sales target of 70,000 look quite attainable. The production of Etios begins in the third week December at TKM’s factory in Bangalore. Also read our Toyota Etios road test (petrol)

he main reason behind the demand for the car seems to be its attractive prices that range between Rs. 4.96 lakhs and Rs. 6.86 lakhs. The price puts Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire squarely in Etios sights. Dzire sells more than 9,000 cars every monthy. The price proposition becomes more attractive considering the fact that Toyota enjoys a premium image in India.

etios sedan at mumbai roadshow
Toyota Etios sedan at Mumbai Toyota roadshow

Demand for sedans has seen an upswing as hatchback owners get ready to replace their older cars, point out experts. And Etios, with Toyota’s cache, appears to have emerged the favored upgrade candidate spoiling the party for Swift Dzire and Tata Indigo Manza.

Toyota has earlier stated that 70 percent of the Etios parts will be sourced locally to keep costs low. And once the  company begins the production of engines and transmissions by 2012, the local content will rise to 90%.  This will give Toyota greater pricing leverage; to keep the price intact or increase it marginally depending on competitive scanario.

According to a report, Noritake travelled to India 40-50 times since becoming the car’s chief engineer in 2006 and he said Toyota had no plans to launch a car in the lower segments but instead hoped to build brand loyalty with the Etios to attract consumers to higher-end models such as the Corolla.

The report mentions that Toyota sold 55,000 vehicles in India last year, giving it a market share of 2.4 percent. It plans to offer a hatchback version of the Etios in April 2011.

Toyota Etios hatchback is dubbed as ‘Liva’. Toyota will launch Toyota Liva with a 1.2 litre petrol engine that produces 80 bhp of maximum power. The ultra light weight of 890 kg of the car should make it a quick and fuel efficient hatchback. Like the Etios sedan, the interiors of Liva should offer maximum , especially the rear leg room and comfortable seating for 5 adults. In fact, Etios roomy interiors might well become the benchmark in the segment.

Toyota will launch the diesel variants by the end of 2011. The diesel engine is expected to be an altered 1.4 litre VGT diesel that powers the recently introduced Corolla Altis Diesel. Toyota may not use the VGT technology for the ETIOS diesel so as to keep the cost of the engine under check. Toyota may also introduce the powerful 1.5 litre petrol engine in the Liva hatch to lock horns with the powerful hatchbacks such as Tata Indica Vista petrol 90 HP, Volkswagen Polo 1.6 litre petrol etc.

However, Liva will face competition from country cousin Honda Brio. Honda Brio was unveiled at the 27th International Motor Expo 2010 in Thailand. The small car will be launched in India before Diwali 2011. In India, Brio will likely be priced below Rs 5 lakh, making it a formidable competitor to market leader Maruti Suzuki’s range of small cars and the upcoming Toyota Liva hatchback.

The Japanese car makers are on launching spree to tap the ever-growing car market in India. The major players Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Hyundai are in midst of updating and relaunching their existing products. Good for us we say.