Toyota Etios sales drop 34% in August in anticipation of diesel variant

Toyota has had a bit of a damp month in August with the Etios. Sales have dropped 34% from the previous month to 2,708 units. It’s likely that the drop is in anticipation of the diesel variant that’s being launched this week.

The differential in running costs between petrol and diesel has resulted in a huge skew in bookings across carmakers in favour of the diesel model. For the Maruti Dzire, nearly 70% of bookings are for the diesel variant. With the Tata Manza and Indigo range, the skew is as high as 90% in favour of the diesel variant.

And this is not surprising. The entry-level sedans segment is also an extremely value-for-money driven: want a bigger car than a hatchback, with the least price and operating expenses.

Toyota Etios sales drop 34% in August in anticipation of diesel variant

Not surprisingly, tomorrow Toyota is launching diesel engine variants for the Etios and Liva. These cars will be powered by a 1.4-litre, 67 bhp engine. This engine, Toyota claims, gives a mileage of 23.6 kmpl. Also read: Etios and Liva diesel; launch preview

Over the past six months, the Toyota Etios has had a bit of a bumpy ride. With initial euphoria over the launch, the car clocked up bookings of over 12,000 cars in the first 15 days after its launch in December last year.

The car sold purely on the Toyota brand and its aspiration value to buyers. But Toyota has been hit with a production crunch and the Japanese tsunami in March also threw production out of gear. Despite that sales went on to hit a peak of 5,002 cars in June.

However, in the following two months, with rising interest rates and higher petrol prices affecting carmakers across the board, the Etios too has seen some serious declines in sales. In July, sales dropped to just under 4,100 cars before a further decline this month. It will be interesting to see the impact of the diesel engine variants of the Etios on sales.

Demand for Dzire stays strong

One car that has shown huge resilience during these tough times has been the Maruti Dzire. Maruti too has been hit with severe production problems due to labor unrest at its plant in Manesar. This saw sales of the Dzire drop to a low of 2,486 cars in June compared to an average of 10,400 cars a month it sold between January and May.

In August, despite the ongoing problems at the plant, sales have bounced back to 7,856 units, going to show the strong core proposition of the car – that of good mileage, drivability and adequate space at a reasonable price.

Besides the Maruti Dzire, the other car that’s beginning to gain favor and did well last month was the Ford Fiesta Classic, which gained 22% at 1,544 cars, outselling its higher-priced sibling the global Ford Fiesta (which sold only 400 cars).

Among all the entry-level petrol hatchbacks, the Ford Fiesta Classic has the highest power (1.6 litre engine, 100 bhp power) along with good handling which appeals to driving enthusiasts. The diesel variant shares its engine with the Figo diesel – a 1.4 litre, 68 bhp unit.

Mahindra’s Verito has also been creeping up the charts clocking its highest sales this year in August of over 1,700 cars.

Among all the car segments, the entry-level sedan segment is the only one that’s shown growth overall, but that’s mainly because of Maruti’s Dzire. If you don’t consider the Dzire’s numbers, the segment is down about 8% overall.

Do you think the Etios diesel will manage to prop up sales numbers given the strong buyer preference for diesel cars now?

Entry-level sedan sales July-August 2011

[table id=176 /]
*Prices mentioned are ex-showroom Delhi