Chennai: With rising fuel costs and customer preference for diesel cars, Japanese automaker Toyota is studying feasibility of manufacturing the diesel variant of its latest sedan Etios, a company official said Friday.
“Well that (introducing diesel variants) is very much on the cards.. first we will establish ourselves in the market with Etios and Liva.. then based upon demand we will look into it..”, Toyota Kirloskar Motor vice president (sales and dealer development division) Sailesh Shetty said.
The company currently retails premium sedan Altis, SUV Innova and premium SUV Fortuner in petrol as well as diesel variant in India.
According to industry experts, increased operating costs and frequent petrol prices have resulted in people preferring diesel variants. It may be noted that 60% sales of Ford’s latest premium hatchback Figo is the diesel variant.
During an informal interaction with PTI after unveiling the hatchback Liva, Shetty said they would also consider manufacturing diesel engines for Liva once their engine plant is operational.
Currently Toyota Kirloskar Motors is ramping up its Bangalore facility for manufacturing Etios and engines for all models at an investment of around Rs 3,200 crore.
“Right now we are importing diesel engines from Japan. We are setting up the engine plant in Bangalore. Based on demand, will produce diesel engines (for Liva and Etios models)”, he said.
Stating that the company aimed to sell about 60,000 units of Liva and Etios this year, Toyota Kirloskar Motor deputy managing director (commercial) Shekar Viswanathan said the waiting period of Etios has been considerably reduced.
“Now we can handover the vehicle within 30 days. It (the waiting period) has been reduced”, he said.
Viswanathan added that Toyota is also working on increasing localisation level of Etios and Liva models from the present 70% to 90%.
Since the nationwide launch of Liva, the company has already registered over 1,000 bookings, he said.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor is a Joint Venture between Japanese automaker Toyota and Kirloskar Group. Toyota holds a majority stake of 89%, while Kirloskar Group owns 11%. The company currently employs 5,000 people across the country.
Besides Corolla Altis, Innova and Fortuner, Toyota also retails Camry, Prado, Land Cruiser and Prius as Completely Built Units in India.