Toyota’s answer to the Tata Nano will come in the form of a $5000 car (Rs 2 lakh). That is twice the official price of the Tata Nano which is priced at $ 2500 (Rs 1 lakh).
The Japanese auto major is planning the low cost small car primarily for India and a handful of overseas markets such as Brazil. This is in fact a shift from Toyota’s earlier plans to launch an entry-level family car for India and Brazil in 2011for a price of around $8,000.
To build the small car, Toyota has roped in the partnership of small car specialist Daihatsu Motor Co, which has built compact cars around the world. The partnership is expected to roll out Toyota’s first small car by year 2010 in India. Our first story on the Toyota small car appeared in 2006 on this site!!
To be priced at $5000, the car is expected to be cheap small car from a big manufacturer. Though Toyota rubbishes comparisons with the Nano, the low pricing is expected to bring in natural comparisons with Tatas’ proposed people’s car. Considering that it is Toyota we are talking about, we expect the quality of the Rs 2 lakh small car to be much, much better than the Nano or the other alternative, the Maruti 800.
Industry sources say Toyota is planning to roll out the car under a new brand distinct from the car makers high end brands such as the Lexus or the Scion. It is being said that the company had been readying a low-end car for emerging markets for quite some years now. With the new low-end car coming up, Toyota will join the Tatas, Bajaj Auto, Renault-Nissan, Hyundai Motor Co and General Motors in the race for the small cheap car.
However, for Toyota the small car experiment might not be very easy as the car maker is more familiar with luxury models and high cost models. It is also being rumoured that it will have to sell high volumes of the $5000 car to make up for the low profit margins of low-end vehicles.
Toyota boasts of a market share of about 2.6 per cent in India, and has enjoyed good success with models such as the Corolla and the Camry, the multi-utility vehicle Innova and the sport-utility vehicle Land Cruiser Prado in the country.