Toyota launched its entry-level sedan Etios on Wednesday. The 1.5-litre petrol version of the much-awaited car will sell between Rs.4.96 and Rs. 6.8 lakh. A 1.2-litre trim is expected next year.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd. (TKM), a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Japan, and the Kirloskar group, launched its first offering in the B segment, the Etios sedan, in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch, Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation, said the new platform, developed over five years at a cost of over Rs.2,000 crore exclusively for India and other emerging markets, enabled the company to address the lower end of the market.

The price of the Etios sedan, available in five versions, ranges from Rs.4.96 lakh to Rs.6.87 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Yoshinori Noritake, Chief Engineer for the Etios at TMC, said the car had been developed after extensive tests, including road tests over two lakh km across the country. Pointing out that India “is a battle ground for compact cars,” Mr. Noritake said Indian consumers were extremely price-conscious although they were also quality conscious.

The company also announced that it would launch its first hatchback, the Etios Liva, in April 2011. Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director-Marketing, TKM, said company had targeted sales of 77,000 cars from the Etios platform in 2011.

Asked for the break-up of the target for the hatchback and the sedan versions, Mr. Sandeep Singh said the company's “flexible production line” at its plant in Bidadi near Bangalore could handle the variability in demand across the two versions.

The Etios platform would also be implemented by Toyota's facility in Brazil, he added. The company does not have any plans to export the Etios from its facility here, he said.

Mr. Sandeep Singh said bookings commenced on Wednesday and that the first deliveries of the Etios would commence in January 2011.

Mr. Toyoda said the company was “considering” the introduction of a diesel version of the Etios, but refused to spell out any timeline for the product. He said the extent of “localisation” of the Etios was now about 70 per cent.

This would rise to 90 per cent when TKM started manufacturing the engines and transmission systems in India, he added. “We are aiming for a full-scale presence in India,” he said.

Keywords: EtiosToyota