For the last few months, speculations have been rife about two new body styles spawned out of the Toyota Etios low cost car platform. One such body style was the hot new compact sedan class, involving the Etios sedan, and the other was a crossover variant of the Liva hatchback. Our friends over at IndianAutosBlog got in touch with the folks at Toyota Kirloskar India to verify whether these speculations have any substance. Speaking to IAB, Toyota India’s PR machinery has stated that the car maker intends to build neither a compact sedan based on the Etios nor a crossover based on the Liva.
In fact, this answer from Toyota is something that was quite expected. We’re saying this as Sandeep Singh, a Deputy Managing Director at Toyota Kirloskar has stated that the Japanese car brand doesn’t intend to launch new cars in India until 2015. Toyota’s decision to go slow on new launches has to do with the slow car sales that India has been seeing over the past year or so due to a multitude of factors. The slowing demand for cars in India may be attributed to the gloomy economic conditions, high fuel prices and high interest rates.
In the next couple of years, Toyota Kirloskar India intends to strengthen sales of the Etios sedan and the Liva hatchback, stuff that will not be easy. The Etios sedan and the Liva hatchback, built on the low cost Etios car platform have not lived up to the sales expectations that Brand Toyota has had for these cars, more so, given that these cars have been engineered specifically for emerging markets like India, Brazil and South Africa. In India, the budget car buyer, swamped with choices that offer better quality interiors and design has clearly given the thumbs down to the Etios and the Liva, and the same has been the case in Brazil as well where the cars have been sales duds.
Toyota did cut many corners while building the Etios and Liva, and this hasn’t gone down well with the Indian car buyer. The cars look dated, feel cheap and despite coming with the legendary Toyota reliability, do not have the well engineered feel of say an Innova or a Corolla. Therefore, the high quality Innova MPV continues to be the best selling car model for Toyota in India, selling more than three times as much as say the Etios or the Liva. Meanwhile, Toyota India has gotten back to the drawing board and in the next few months, refreshed versions of the Etios and the Liva are expected to be launched in India. These refreshed versions are expected to come with interiors that have better quality. In India, Toyota sells the Etios and Liva with petrol and turbo diesel engine options, with 5 speed manual transmissions as standard.