At the Ennore Port in Chennai today morning, Toyota Kirloskar Motor commenced export of the locally manufactured Etios hatchback and sedan models to South Africa.
Toyota launches the Etios on the 21st of May in South Africa at a starting price of 7.63 lakh rupees. The first consignment of cars consisted of 247 units. Toyota expects an annual export volume of 20k units a year to SA. Cars will reach all 198 dealerships in time for the launch.
Mr Hiroshi Nakagawa, Managing Director of Toyota Kirloskar Motor said the company has not identified markets other than South Africa to export Etios. Studies are underway to identify new export markets for the coming years. Toyota's focus continues to be on the domestic market where a lot of work is still pending.
Mr Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Toyota SA Motors said Toyota's market share has eroded over the last few years as South African buyers are shifting to smaller cars that Toyota does not offer. Mr Hamman said diesel cars are more popular in the utility vehicles segment and the compact luxury segment. The indication clearly is diesel variants won't be exported to South Africa.
The security guards at the loading area did not allow me to click close-up shots, but from what I could manage to see, quality levels are similar. The interiors don't have beige or contrasting highlights. There's a tinge of chrome around the AC vents, and that's easily noticeable. A circular steering wheel replaces the flat-bottom, Audi R8-inspired unit on the Indian Etios. Mr Hamann told reporters that the South African variants have tweaked suspension and different tires as adjustments to smoother road conditions and speeds of over 120kph achieved frequently on South African motorways.
The cars lined up for boarding did not have variant markings. There are two variants each for the Etios hatch and sedan. Toyota has not used Liva suffix in the branding for the SA market.