Toyota plans compact SUV, small car launches for India

Every carmaker wants a piece of the action in India and Toyota, one of the leading carmakers globally, isn’t getting the volumes it wants in India. That’s because it does not have cars in the key growth segments in the Indian market – compact SUVs and the high-volume segment of hatchbacks.

According to a PTI report, Toyota is planning on entering these segments in India. At the moment it only has one premium hatchback, in the form of the Toyota Etios Liva that has been clocking an average of 2,270 cars a month in the past one year, while rivals such as the Ford Figo clock 4,870 cars a month and the leader of the pack, the Maruti Swift, has been selling an average of 15,160 cars a month!

The other growth segment is that of compact SUVs, where the Renault Duster has seen phenomenal sales since its launch in July 2012. The upcoming Ford EcoSport too has been garnering a lot of interest. Also read: All new 2014 Toyota Corolla spy photos leaked

Toyota Motor Corporation managing officer Satoshi Ohiso told PTI that the company needs to launch more small cars in India if it wants big volumes. He also said that globally compact SUVs are getting more popular, and the company is definitely considering a compact SUV for India as well.

However, there’s a stumbling block to Toyota’s plans. To keep its prices competitive it will have to offer more diesel variants of its cars with locally built diesel engines, for which it needs to set up a plant here. But with the fluctuating fuel prices and uncertain government policy on fuel pricing, Toyota is adopting a wait-and-watch approach. It is also keenly eyeing an upcoming India-European Union free trade agreement, which would dramatically reduce import duty tariffs for European cars. Japanese carmakers are also likely to lobby for similar benefits. Also read: Toyota Furia concept revealed, will be next Corolla

None of these decisions though are going to make an impact in India before 2015, as Toyota had earlier stated it is not launching any new products till 2015, but will continue to update and refresh existing products. At present Toyota sells the Etios Liva, Etios sedan, Corolla Altis, Camry and Fortuner in India. There was speculation that it might be considering the Toyota Rush compact SUV as well as the Toyota Avanza MUV for India, besides small cars such as the Toyota Yaris or Toyota Aygo. However, Toyota hasn’t confirmed which of these cars it is likely considering for India. Also read: Upcoming car trends in India