Earlier this evening, we were presented with the unique opportunity to partake in a conference with three top-level executives of Toyota - Mr. Hiroshi Nakagawa, Managing Director TKM, Mr. Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer (Marketing & Commercial) TKM and Mr. Akio Nishimura, Chief Engineer (Etios & Liva) at the launch of the refreshed Etios twins in New Delhi.
Here's what the senior executives had to say to some of our reader' questions -
IAB - I'd like to start with the Etios and Liva facelifts. The height adjustable headrests and the reprofiled taillights seem similar to the Brazil-spec Etios. Did you use their help or development work to enrich the Indian car with these features?
Akio Nishimura -The Brazilian Etios has unique range (of variants) because the Brazilian market uses alcohol-rich fuel. So there's a slight engine power difference. The safety regulation is also different, the airbag is a standard feature. The styling is almost same, but suspension tuning is harder because speeds on Brazilian highways are high.
Hiroshi Nakagawa - India is a bit senior to Brazil with Etios, as it launched here first. We have our own specs, and Brazil also has some features. Between the elder brother (India) and younger brother (Brazil) we can exchange some drawings (assembly drawings).
IAB - Why haven't you raised the ground clearance of the hatch? (Only the sedan's ground clearance has gone up by 4mm as per the brochure)
Sandeep Singh - It is for both Liva and Etios. In G grade, we have changed the tires from 14 to 15 inch, I believe the change will be in both variants. In both the cases, the increase is the same.
IAB - Many automakers are looking at the sub-4m rule. This year Honda and Mahindra will launch sedans in this category. The Liva is a sub-4m car, but what about making a sub-4m Etios (sedan) variant? Is that an option you are considering?
Sandeep Singh - The DNA of Etios is comfort and space, we don't want to move away from that. We believe we will compromise on interior space and boot space (with a sub-4m version), the most important features of Etios. So we will not do it.
IAB - What is the rationale behind the introduction of the 1.5L Liva Sportivo variant?
Sandeep Singh - We had a strong feedback from young people that they want peppiness and we thought this is something we can immediately give to them, a sporty version.
IAB - Would we see an Automatic Transmission on the Etios or Liva in the future?
Sandeep Singh - Not immediately. We are no doubt looking at it very keenly, but not in the immediate future.
IAB - Toyota is nearing completion of the development of the next generation Corolla, the Corolla Furia Concept was shown in Detroit a couple of months back as well. Can we expect the all-new Corolla in India late this year or early next year?
Sandeep Singh - Whenever we introduce any model in the international market, it is introduced across the world. We as of now haven't frozen the date or time of introduction but you will see that Corolla coming into India because it is already being featured in many auto magazines and auto shows. But we have not yet finalized the time. We will not be able to share that now as we don't have the correct time in front of us.