Sandeep Singh Toyota Interview

Toyota’s India journey has been very smooth, since their very first vehicle, the Qualis was launched way back on 11th January 2000. Today more than 12 years later, Toyota offers 9 vehicles across various segments, starting from Rs. 5.52 lakhs for the base Etios Liva to Rs. 1.28 crore for the flagship Land Cruiser (all prices on-road, Mumbai). Toyota is quite bullish about the Indian market and we caught up with Mr. Sandeep Singh (Deputy Managing Director, Marketing, Toyota India) in Bangalore last night for a media interaction. Here is what he revealed to us.

* Toyota Bangalore plant is one of the best plants in Asia pacific region, strict quality control with environment friendly practices are followed.

* 6 suppliers are present in the plant, with most suppliers having their base around the plant.

* Two plants currently, old plant produces Innova and Fortuner. New plant is for passenger cars such as Etios, Etios Liva and Corolla. Total capacity per year is being increased to about 3 lakh units from January 2013.

* Appreciation of yen and depreciation of Rupee has hit the profit margins of the company. Toyota wants to increase export units to other countries to bridge this gap. This year 20,000 units of the Etios were exported to South Africa, this will only increase next year.

* Toyota will sell approx 1,70,000 units this year, growth better than auto industry.

* The Corolla segment has seen a decline, not only for Toyota but the segment has not grown much off late.

* Toyota runs a technical training institute where they train and educate 64 students per year, who come from poor background and cannot afford education.

* Lot of advance processes used in the plant such as water recycling and environment friendly process such as no solvent is used in the paint shop.

* Current focus is on dealership expansion and to get deeper into the C and D group cities. Currently 95 dealerships, expected to reach 230 outlets by March 2013. Lots of potential in the rural markets. Besides this, exports are key interests of the company.

* Toyota will not launch a car smaller than the Liva and the Liva will continue to be Toyota’s smallest car in India.

* Toyota will not launch any new car in the near future. Will continue to focus on the Etios twins.
No plans to introduce international models such as Vitz, Yaris, etc in India. Toyota will focus on current portfolio.

* No compact SUV coming from Toyota in the near future, though they admit that this segment has great potential.

* The Innova and Fortuner are doing very well. Toyota does not see Rexton as a major threat to the Fortuner
The Prius was launched to make a statement, not to do volumes. To showcase the technology Toyota possesses. Big market for hybrid cars is in Japan.

* Toyota will consider bringing possibly smaller hybrid cars in India based on long term government plans and subsidies for hybrid technology. No plans to get Prius through CKD route in the near future.

* Toyota wanted to get the Lexus brand to India and had also done a feasibility study, however custom duty went up from 60 percent to 75 percent and the appreciating Yen and depreciating Rupee made it difficult for the company. Thus, there are no plans for Lexus launch in the foreseeable future.

* Toyota has no plans for a diesel engine plant currently since the govt stand on excise/additional duty on diesel cars is it clear. Toyota sells 80 percent diesel variants in the etios range.

* Localization on Etios petrol is 85 percent. The diesel engine for Etios is currently being imported. Toyota plans to announce a price hike between 1-2.5 percent applicable from January 2013.

* The Japanese automaker expects the market to recover based on Government reforms and if RBI reduces interest rates.

* Toyota does extensive research and models for a specific country are based on country specific requirements and psychology of the customers with key expectations such as mileage and cost of ownership in mind.