The government's recent decision to allow carmakers to import 2,500 units of vehicles without going through the homologation process should ease up the path for models like the Toyota Alphard and the Nissan X-Trail hybrid to launch in India. Until recently, homologation-free import of only cars that cost at least $ 40,000 (INR 29,05,000) was allowed. With the relaxation in the import norms, carmakers should find launching niche products more feasible.
The relaxation in norms should motivate Toyota Kirloskar Motors to dust out the Alphard launch plans. For the uninitiated, the Toyota Alphard is a larger and a more premium offering than the Innova Crysta. The minivan, spotted in few Indian cities courtesy of private importers, is likely to come to India via the CBU route and cost more than INR 50 lakh. So far, the manufacturer has refrained from introducing the Alphard in India owing to the low demand for luxury-minivans. With relaxation in the import norms, the company might be motivated to finally launch its most luxurious people-mover to test the waters. The first target customers could be luxury hotel chains and VVIPs.
The Toyota Alphard is on sale in Japan with three engine options - 2 petrol and 1 hybrid. The petrol motors on offer are the 2AR-FE 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder (182 PS/235 Nm) and 2GR-FKS 3.5-litre V6 (301 PS/361 Nm). The petrol-electric hybrid powerplant employs a 2AR-FXE 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine that outputs 152 PS and 206 Nm, a 2JM electric motor (front) that generates 143 PS and 270 Nm, and a 2FM electric motor (rear) that produces 68 PS and 139 Nm. The 2.5-litre petrol engine comes mated to a CVT, while the 3.5-litre V6 motor is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid variant features an e-CVT.
The easing of import norms should also push Nissan India to launch the X-Trail hybrid in India, a plan that has been in the backburner since 2015. The third-generation Nissan X-Trail recently went through a mid-cycle makeover. The hybrid variant of the global SUV is powered by the MR20DD 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that outputs 147 PS/207 and the RM31 electric motor that generates 41 PS/160 Nm. The JDM-spec Nissan X-Trail hybrid offers a fuel economy of 20.6 kmpl (2WD)/20.0 kmpl (4WD).
The relaxation in the import norms should also stimulate many other international players to introduce their low-volume niche products in India, the Mercedes V-Class, one other example.