Twist in the story? We have got a whiff that the much anticipated Toyota Etios sedan will be launched before the Etios hatch. Wait a minute, wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around. Apparently it was, but things change and so do the strategies of car manufacturers.
Toyota Kirloskar Motors Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between India’s Kirloskar Group and Japan’s Toyota Motor Corporation, has made up its mind to bring in newly-developed sedan on the Etios platform, ahead of the hatchback.
The Etios sedan, which has been anticipated to be launched by the end of the year, is a part of TKM’s plan to get firm foothold in the domestic market. The sedan will be targeted at the mid-level segment and will compete with the makes of Fiat Linea, Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Hyundai Verna, Chevrolet Aveo and Ford Fiesta.
Well, that is all fine. But we don’t like the fact that the launch date of the Etios hatch has been pushed to the first quarter of 2011. The only reason that comes to assist us is that this step might have been taken to thwart competition from other car makers who have scheduled the launch of their new compact cars for this year.
TKM had earlier, during Delhi Auto Expo in January, announced that the Etios hatch will be launched first, and a sedan version of the same would follow soon.
Other small cars, including Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo and Chevrolet Beat, launched this year have been received well by the Indian customers and Nissan is almost on the verge of launching its small car Micra.
The Toyota small car will feature a new 1.2-litre engine, while the sedan will sport a 1.5-litre petrol engine. And it was rumoured that the company was planning to bring diesel engine variants of the two models too. That seems apt considering that there is such a huge demand for diesel cars in India.
TKM is being quite discreet and not divulging any information that could be even remotely related to the prices of its upcoming new cars. Sources say that Toyota would price the car very competitively. In fact, the company is ready to cast off its rich brand image to become a mass market player.
This project is of prime importance to TKM considering that it is the first time that the company has developed a new platform, combined with an equally new engine, for the Indian market. Other Toyota models that have been launched in India so far are international models.
The Etios will have an Indian debut before it is exported to other countries in the world. According to Toyota, the exports will start from 2012 to Asean and African nations. The company aims to have a localisation level that is close to 75 per cent.