Toyota has been struggling to capture a significant share in the Indian auto market. While the Innova and Corolla were Toyota’s mainstay products for the longest period, the automaker’s foray into the volume hatchback and entry-level sedan space failed miserably with the birth of the Etios twins. Now, realigning its strategy for India, the company has decided to launch the Vios C-segment mid-size sedan in 2017 confirming our earlier reports on the same. The Vios is still three years away and Toyota seems to be too late to the C-segment party where there are more than 8 models, making it the most competitive segment.
Toyota will produce the Vios locally at the automaker’s Bidadi plant alongside the Etios. While a definite scale of investment has not been decided, the company is planning to start utilising the free production lines at the facility by producing around 50,000 units of the Vios annually. The next generation Etios is due for launch in 2016 and Toyota could position the model as a compact sedan for better differentiation between both the products. The company will gradually end the Etios’ production by 2020, with the Vios sedan taking over in its place.
A popular model for Toyota internationally, the Vios is targeted towards the average middle-class buyer in emerging economies and is sold in over 8 countries including Malaysia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. The last fiscal saw the automaker retail 2.20 lakh units of the Vios across different markets. With Thailand being one of the biggest markets, the mid-size sedan is priced at around 1.8 million Yen (Rs. 10.60 lakhs) in the country. However, Toyota changes the pricing according to the different income levels in different countries.
While a specific pricing has not been decided as yet for India, we expect Toyota to price the Vios in the Rs. 8-12 lakh range slotted between the Etios and the Corolla sedans. Engine options are most likely to include the 1.5-litre VVT-i petrol engine producing 109 PS and 141 Nm of torque, while the tried and tested 1.4-litre D4-D diesel engine will produce 88 PS of power. Both the engines are paired to a 5-speed manual transmission, while the petrol comes with a 4-speed automatic unit as well. Toyota could skip some features from the sedan to keep the pricing competitive in the country.
Competing against the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Volkswagen Vento and the likes in the segment, the Toyota Vios could turn out to be decent volume puller for the world’s largest carmaker in India. Moreover, the sedan will be gradually replacing the Etios, which in itself is a welcome move. Nonetheless, the automaker managed to retail 60,000 units of the Etios in 2013, from the anticipated 70,000 mark. Considering that the Vios is based on the Yaris hatchback, will Toyota bring the Yaris to replace the Etios Liva is yet to be seen.