I caught up with a well-informed and straightforward representative of Toyota South Africa at the Etios export commencement ceremony in Chennai today.
I asked Mr Calvyn Hamman how his company manages to sell three hatchbacks in South Africa (Aygo, Yaris and Etios) that don't differ much in dimensions or positioning.
How is the Toyota Aygo different from the Toyota Yaris in South Africa?
We have 13 Yaris model and Aygo in three- and five-door variants. I'd say the Aygo is 110,000 Rand, but its a high output, sophisticated engine, quite high spec. Here (Etios) the spec is a bit lower, its a bigger engine and a lower output. Yaris is quite expensive, but Yaris comes only in 1-liter and 1.3-liter engines, but the specification level, built in design and engineering is high on Yaris. It is European spec.
Can you explain the target customers of the Aygo, Etios and Yaris?
In our country, we don't segment cars by age group. We segment by income group and also the need of the customer. So if you look at Aygo, we tried to position Aygo for the very young people, the Etios is for the emerging market - for the guy who is buying his first car but needs a bit of space. Yaris is for the 28 year old person who earns a bit more money and is an ambitious man. The guy who has his first car, can move on to Yaris. This (Etios) is more at the first car market, but I can tell you now that we will have many pensioners and old people who will buy this car (Etios) as a retirement gift.
Don't you think that the Etios looks similar to the Logan? What are your thoughts?
I think the design is conservative compared to the other makes. But people who buy this car are not so worried about design. They are people who worry about affordability, reliability and resale value, which we will give them.
What is your business plan for 2012 in South Africa?
We are bringing the 86 sports model, there will be a minor Hilux facelift. We're launching a few Lexus models also, new RX, new GS, we have quite a busy year. Also the new Aygo will come in May, which is a minor change. We source cars from France, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Africa. In South Africa we build all IMV models - Hilux (single, extra and double cab), Fortuner, and Corolla. It is for us beneficial to buy Etios from here (India) rather than open another line in South Africa.