The world’s largest automobile manufacturer has managed to capture just a fraction of the Indian car market. 4.5% to be exact if we talk about numbers. This makes them the sixth largest auto maker nationally, behind biggies like Maruti, Hyundai, Mahindra, Tata and Honda.
And while there are no lack of options in their global line-up, the company has not achieved success in the mass segment in India. The Fortuner and Innova Crysta have been the segment leaders in the Rs 15+ lakh category but when it comes to mass appeal, products like the Etios and the Liva have not managed to keep stay afloat. But there is one product that could ring in numbers for Toyota in India – say hello to the new “Rush” compact SUV.
The Rush got a major face-lift a few months back and looks nothing like its predecessor. With that muscular stance, it now looks a lot like a mini Fortuner and also gets optional TRD body kits! It now seats 7, though still has a true ladder frame for that SUV touch. It went on sale in Indonesia last month and we can’t help but pray that Toyota India showcases it at the Expo as a serious contender for the domestic market.
The Rush has been in the news in India for almost half a decade. It was ‘supposed‘ to come to India years back, but didn’t. 2018 however seems the right time for the Rush – and here is why we hope the higher-ups in the company are reading this article.
1. Their market share is declining
Toyota sold 134150 units in 2016 and though 2017 numbers increased to 139566, the market declined from 4.56% to 4.4%. In contrast, they had a market share of 5.1% in 2015. While competitors are launching all-new products keeping in mind the changing market trends, Toyota is still not willing to experiment with its global products. The Rush will help them garner a bigger pie of the Indian car market, thus staying among the top 5 auto brands in India.
2. Indians want ‘big’ cars
Size does matter and we Indians love our things to be BIG. Best sellers like the Vitara, Creta and the Compass restrengthen the fact that SUVs, even if pseudo ones, are here to stay and command the segment. Toyota knows this fact given its success in the Utility and D+ segment with the Innova and the Fortuner respectively.
3. The new Rush looks perfect for India
The all-new Rush broke cover two months back and looks a lot better than the earlier version. It has grown in size, has modern design cues from its elder siblings and seats 7 in comfort. Which other brutish looking vehicle in the Rs 10-14 lakh bracket seats 7 in comfort?
4. The Rush is feature loaded
Given its typical customer base, the Rush is packed to the brim with features and driver aids. In terms of safety, it gets 6 airbags, vehicle stability control, ABS, hill start assist and 7 seat belt indicators. Features include auto A/C with digital display, power slot in every row, LED headlamps, 8 surround speakers, smart start/stop button with smart entry and a 7″ touchscreen system with Internet support.
5. Toyota’s brand name will help
Toyota has become synonymous with words like reliability and dependability in India. The peace of mind factor works well for Indian buyers and the Rush will provide best in class ownership experience in our opinion. Which other rival given an optional 7 year extended warranty?
The only chink in the armour in this entire exercise is the lack of a diesel engine option right now. The Rush is only sold with the 1.5-litre petrol unit in Indonesia and given our love for oil burners, Toyota will need to do the exercise of plonking the 1.4-litre D-4D unit that does duty in the Liva, Etios and the Corolla. The 87 bhp / 205Nm unit is known for its torquey nature along with high fuel economy and should keep buyers happy.
So, there you go. Given its declining market share, its a do or die scenario for the Japanese brand in India. The only thing that can save Toyota from dropping down the ranks is the Rush and they better be serious about it. Lets hope they showcase the SUV at the upcoming Auto Expo in next month.