New Delhi: Four years after its launch in the Indian market, Japanese auto maker Toyota Motor Corp. may withdraw the Etios brand by stopping its production by 2020, Japanese news agency Nikkei reported on 19 July.

Toyota is looking to tweak strategy in the Indian market and will introduce Vios, a sedan that competes with its arch-rival Honda Motor Co.’s City globally, the agency said.

Unable to gain much traction with the budget Etios, the company has decided to introduce the Vios compact by 2017, aiming at middle-class drivers who can afford to choose a vehicle based on more than just price, Nikkei added.

The Japanese car maker will decide the scale of the investment later, but the plan is to start by using free production lines at its factory to make some 50,000 units a year. By around 2020, production of the Etios will end and be fully replaced by the Vios.

Toyota’s Indian unit denied the report.

“We have no such plan and we would like to refrain from commenting on future product plans," it said in a statement.

In April, Mint reported that the Japanese firm does not plan to enter India’s small car market and intends to focus on bigger cars.

The game plan for Toyota in India has changed, Vikram Kirloskar, vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor India Pvt. Ltd, said in an April interview. Toyota Kirloskar Motor is Toyota’s subsidiary in India.

“The mass-market segment is not for Toyota. I think Toyota’s game will be in bigger car segments. We have tried hard to break the cost barrier in the small car segment, but we have just not been able to do so," Kirloskar said.

Sales of Etios fell 20% to 31,137 units during the fiscal ended 31 March while sales of all cars declined 4.65%.

Aimed at emerging economies, the Etios was introduced into Indian market in 2010. A hatchback named Liva was introduced later on the same platform.

During the last fiscal year, Toyota saw its market share in India decline even as rival Honda Cars India Ltd saw its sales rise after it introduced the Amaze and a feature-rich new City. Toyota India, in which the Kirloskar has a 11% stake, saw its market share decline by 1 percentage point to 5.18%. Overall sales of its vehicles declined 22.2% to 128,811 units in a market that declined 6% in 2013-14.

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