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‘We are very serious about prospects of Indian market’

business Updated: Aug 03, 2009 18:15 IST
Sumant Banerji

World’s largest carmaker Toyota Motor Corporation has had a rather subdued presence in India so far with a marketshare of low single digit. But with the debut of its maiden small car next year and a host of other launches and refreshes, the company is hoping to chart a new course for itself. In a free wheeling chat with Hindustan Times, Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor India Ltd, talks about the company’s roadmap for the future.

Globally, Toyota is at the fore front in the numbers game but in India it is just a passive player. Why?
Toyota has been present in India for a little over ten years now. In this time, we have set up our first plant and have introduced best in class products like the Innova, Corolla Altis, Land Cruiser, Camry and Prado. We will also launch the Fortuner by September. Construction of our second plant, which will produce our new compact vehicle, is also underway. With this new compact vehicle, Toyota will make an entry into the mass volume market in India. We are very serious about the prospects of the Indian market and our objective is to bring products which will succeed in exceeding the expectations of our customers.

India’s luxury car segment is very small. What was the intention behind launching the Land Cruiser in India and what kind of market do you see for the vehicle here?
The premium SUV market in India has seen growth only recently, in the past few years. The Land Cruiser, which is the proven king of SUVs, will enhance Toyota’s brand image in India before the introduction of the new compact vehicle and thus convey the message of Toyota’s superior technological capabilities.

As of now, depending on the market demand and customer’s perspective, we are sure we would work on maximising sales.

What is the outlook on your bread and butter MUV segment? Will there be only the existing Innova or will you be launching more models in that space? Also considering the kind of response the Xylo has got, do you think a vehicle below Innova merits consideration?

The Innova has been maintaining leadership in the MPV segment. The new Innova has also been much appreciated for its advanced and dynamic styling. We are increasing our production of Innova by 15 per cent from this month.

There have been reports of Toyota increasing its investment beyond the Rs 3,200 crore that you had announced. What is the cumulative investment you are making in India?
We will continue with our earlier announced investment for the second plant.

How will you be positioning the Fortuner in India and what is the road ahead for the ageing Prado?
With the Fortuner, we will be entering the premium mid-SUV segment in India. We will look at garnering a high market share in this segment by selling on average 350 vehicles per month.

As regards Prado, currently we have no plans for its re-introduction, but depending on the market conditions, we will study this aspect.