Toyota gets 12,000 pre-sale Etios orders in India

Toyota gets 12,000 pre-sale Etios orders in India

Tokyo: Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it has received 12,000 orders for its Etios sedan in India since it began taking orders on 1 December, putting it well on track to meet the car’s annual sales target of 70,000 units.

The world’s biggest automaker developed the Etios specifically for the fast-growing Indian market, aiming to boost its market share with a first foray into the mass-volume compact segment in the country.

“The number of orders is far bigger than I personally expected," the car’s chief engineer, Yoshinori Noritake, told reporters in Tokyo. “We don’t even have the car in our showrooms yet," he said.

Toyota is targeting an almost doubling of its sales in India next year to 145,000 units, with the Etios accounting for about half of that. Production of the Etios begins on 20 December at Toyota’s factory near Bangalore.

Toyota will import the engines and transmissions for the Etios until local engine production starts in autumn 2012 and transmission production in early 2013. Toyota plans to eventually export the model to other emerging markets.

Global automakers are entering the Indian market with compact cars to challenge the dominance of Maruti Suzuki India, Hyundai Motor Co and Tata Motors Ltd.

The Etios sedan starts at 4,96,000 Indian ($11,040) for the standard model, still well above the most popular entry segment of cars priced around $8,000.

Noritake, who said he has travelled to India 40-50 times since becoming the car’s chief engineer in 2006, said Toyota had no plans to launch a car in the lower segments but instead hoped to build brand loyalty with the Etios to attract consumers to higher-end models such as the Corolla.

Toyota sold 55,000 vehicles in India last year, giving it a market share of 2.4%. It plans to offer a hatchback version of the Etios in April 2011.