In 2016, Toyota Kirloskar Motor had made it clear that it will not launch a sub-4 metre SUV (or sedan). Now, the company feels that presence in the segment seems inevitable.
Sub-4 metre SUVs and sedans are driving the growth in the Indian market, with the former accounting for about 40,000 vehicles a month and the Maruti Dzire, which falls under the latter category, taking the title of India's best selling car in 2018. While TKM is not willing to penetrate the highly-competitive sub-4 metre sedan space, it has finally understood that the existence of a sub-4 metre SUV in the portfolio is crucial.
“If the market trend globally is shifting towards the C-segment SUVs, Indian market particularly is looking for B-segment SUVs, which reflects the uniqueness of this market, Masaku Yoshimura, MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told reporters on the sidelines of the 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid launch.
It took Toyota Kirloskar Motor 7 years to launch an all-new high-volume model (Yaris). The next few launches won’t have to wait as long, as the company won’t develop them from the ground up. Thanks to an agreement between Toyota and Suzuki, it will get to launch a badge-engineered version of the nation’s top-selling SUV - the Vitara Brezza - as well as the popular B-segment hatchback Baleno. An official launch timeline isn't available at the moment, but expect both models to reach Toyota showrooms this year.
In a recent report, The Economic Times said that TKM can launch a C-segment SUV as well. Toyota’s global C-SUV is the RAV4, but that seems highly unlikely for our market as there’s no plan to localise the TNGA (TNGA-K) platform. The same report also says that the company could leverage the new import norms allowing automakers to bring in 2,500 CBUs a year without homologation. It will probably launch either the Toyota Hiace or the Toyota Alphard, more likely the former.
[Source 1: auto.economictimes.com]
[Source 2: auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com]