New Toyota Corolla IndiaWith an aim to increase its presence in the fast-growing Indian automobile market, Toyota Motor Corporation (TKC) plans to launch an array of new vehicles, and will roll out its next-generation Corolla sedan and new compact offroader Fortuner this year.

“We aim to become a full-range car company in the next few years, and, realistically, it’s a big task. We are finalising plans to introduce several new vehicles from the our stable, aiming a much higher market share in India than the current 3%,” said Toyota’s newly appointed India head Hiroshi Nakagawa. “The new vehicles will be both imported and locally manufactured at our Bangalore facility,” he added.

The company is looking at products across the segments, including the luxury marquee Lexus and compact car Diahatsu, that could hit the market in the next few years. “We are in the final lap of bringing in new vehicles in the premium segment, the volume generating small-car segment will be rolled out sometime in 2010,” Mr Nakagawa said.

Priced in Rs 10-14-lakh range, the new Corolla will be pitted against the newly launched Volkswagen Jetta and Honda Civic. Fortuner, in the price band of Rs 15-19 lakh, will compete with Maruti’s Grand Vitara, Honda CRV, Ford Endeavour and GM’s Captiva.

Toyota chief said he was not too worried about the negative impact of rising inflation and galloping fuel prices. “We are closely watching the prevailing low sentiment in the auto market, but are bullish on the potential of the Indian market,” Mr Nakagawa said.

Toyota, which manufactures Corolla and Innova in India through a joint venture with Kirloskar Group, has sold 52,000 vehicles in the last fiscal. It will be expanding its capacity at the Bangalore site to 1.6 lakh by 2010, and roll out its new small car. For this Toyota is finalising its vendor base and will start many of its component-manufacturing subsidiaries in India.

One such subsidiary, Tokai Rika is already setting up a Rs 100-crore greenfield joint venture with Delhi-based component maker NK Minda Group to manufacture seat belts, auto locks and engine immobolizers for the small car.

“We are working closely with the Indian auto-component industry and looking at increasing their cost competitiveness. We shall bring in Toyota’s lean production practices to improve quality and cut costs. We shall enhance the value of products for Indian customers with the first example coming in the shape of our small car,” Mr Nakagawa added.