Toyota has restarted assembly of the Camry Hybrid luxury saloon in India. The car was discontinued for a few months last year once the Goods and Services Tax (GST) came into effect, steeply raising the prices of hybrid cars due to increase in taxes. This had prompted Toyota to stop producing the Camry Hybrid in India as it wanted to realign inventory levels in the wake of higher prices. Now that inventory has run out, the company has started re-assembly of the hybrid car. However, assembly of the car has gone down by 25 % – an indication of lower demand due to the price hike.
Shekar Vishwanathan, Vice-Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar, confirmed this development and also added that taxes on hybrid cars need to be reduced by the Indian government for Toyota to launch more such hybrid cars in India,
We had to stop the production of hybrid Camry for a while because our stock had built up as the tax rate had gone up. Our intent is to bring more models at lower segments as much as possible. But first, we want the tax rate to be a little more sensible from the customer’s point of view. Once you push enough number of hybrids into the market with enough battery manufacturing taking place in India, then the volumes go up. When the volumes go up, the battery cost will come down.
The price of the Camry Hybrid now starts at Rs. 42 lakhs, which is a 13 % increase over the car’s price pre-GST. This steep price hike makes the car as expensive as the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes Benz C-Class. So, why would someone pay so much for a Toyota car instead of picking up a German luxury car? The answer to this lies on the Camry Hybrid’s bullet proof reliability, low running costs and low maintenance costs.
The car is powered by a 2.5 litre “beltless” petrol engine with an electric motor. It uses a complex ECU called the Hybrid Synergy Drive to monitor driving conditions and switch between power sources – either the petrol engine or the electric motor. Power to the electric motor comes from a battery pack. The combined power output of the petrol engine and the electric motor is 205 PS (201 bhp). Fuel efficiency is a very impressive 19.16 Kmpl.