Indian car buyers’ trust in Brand Toyota is legendary and of course, this is the product of Toyota Kirloskar Motors’ own making. Toyota, as a brand worldwide is known for its stellar reliability, except of course for the period over the last year or so when the brand suffered a dent in its reputation due to a spate of recalls. However, Toyota in India remained unaffected by the recalls with the Indian car buyers’ faith in the Toyota brand only growing stronger each day. Toyota began its Indian foray way back in 2000 unconventionally, with the Toyota Qualis MUV.
Very soon, the Toyota Qualis was setting sales records with the erstwhile leader of the segment, the Tata Sumo MUV, ousted from its perch. It isn’t uncommon to find Toyota Qualis MUVs having run lakhs of Kilometers with nothing more than routine maintenance like oil and oil filter changes. Such was and is the stellar reliability of most if not all Toyota vehicles sold in India thus far. However, cracks seem to appearing in Toyota’s spotless reputation for reliability and quality.
While it is still early days to really point fingers at the brand which has really earned its reputation for reliability and quality, the Toyota Etios Sedan is under the scanner for possible water seepage into the car perhaps due to a particular cost cutting measure, asides from a plethora of other possible issues. The Etios Sedan, being a low cost car model developed by Toyota, has indeed been subject to a numerous cost cutting measures for Toyota to arrive at the super competitive price tag that it retails at.
For example, by Toyota’s own admission, major electrical parts of the Etios Sedan are rated to withstand a minimum temperature of -5 to -10 degrees celsius while that of other Toyota models like the Innova and the Corolla are engineered or rather “over engineered” to withstand minimum temperatures of -35 to -40 degrees celsius. Toyota’s logic is that the Etios, being a car for Indian conditions, a land which is predominantly tropical in climate, can do with the lower rating of parts such as the ones mentioned above.
This lower rating of parts has resulted in cost savings for Toyota, which in turn has ostensibly been passed on to the Indian customer in the form of a lower and more affordable price point. The big question we asked at the time of the Toyota Etios Sedan’s launch was whether this focus on cutting costs could result in a legendary Toyota quality and reliability taking a hit. Now, the complaints emerging about the Etios Sedan’s various problems only seem to point to two things: 1. Cost cutting 2. Poor quality control at Toyota’s Indian manufacturing plant at Bidadi, off Bangalore. 3. Possible design faults in the Toyota Etios Sedan.
Given the traditional strengths of Toyota’s quality management and the overall high quality and reliability that other Toyota vehicles in India have exhibited thus far, a quality control issue doesn’t seem very plausible. So then, is cost cutting a major cause of the issues that Toyota Etios Sedan owners seem to be facing, or is it a design fault in the Toyota Etios Sedan? This is something that Toyota Kirloskar Motors better investigate and address, before the niggles become a major issue for the brand’s reputation as a whole.
Coming back to the issues that Toyota Etios Sedan owners seem to be reporting, a frustrated Toyota Etios Sedan owner has found a unique way to express the apathy of a particular Toyota dealership, in this case, Anamalai Toyota of Madurai, which has apparently not been able to solve the various niggles plaguing his Etios Sedan. The harried Etios owner has put out an advertisement in a popular south Indian daily, Dinamalar, highlighting his issue.
While this certainly could have been an one off case, we have more Etios owners coming out with their own lists of problems. So much so, that a Toyota Etios owner, Mr Munish, has even launched a website titled www.myetios.com, which highlights the various issues that plagues the Toyota Etios Sedan along with the possible solutions for them. Now that we have highlighted the issues faced by Etios owners, it is up to Toyota Kirsloskar Motors India to address the problems.
Knowing brand Toyota and the high emphasis that Toyota places upon customer delight, there’s a high possibility that this problem is already being investigated by Toyota’s engineers and a solution being devised for the same. However if that isn’t the case, it could very well turn out to be a situation where Toyota will lose buyer confidence very rapidly as word, especially of the negative type spreads like wildfire. Watch this space!