Having set its sights on semi-urban and rural markets, car maker Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd is bullish on India operations. Though it anticipates margins to come under pressure due to rupee depreciation and firmness in interest rates, it expects a 40 per cent growth this year. It is looking to sell 1.80 lakh units this year as against 1.36 lakh units last year. Addressing presspersons at the unveiling of the concept cars of the Etios Motor Racing Series here on Saturday, Deputy Managing Director (Marketing) of Toyota Kirloskar Sandeep Singh said the company had completed expansion of both its plants in Bangalore. This would reduce the waiting period for Fortuner and Innova drastically. The proposed petrol engine plant, with a capacity of one lakh units, would be ready by the last quarter of this year, he added.

On the budget-induced excise hike on cars, he said it was bound to have an impact on the industry.

The proposals, he added, would have a dampening effect and the next two months, in particular, might not be good for the industry. For the company, last year was not good as the tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand impacted production, he said.

The company, however, does not foresee change in the mid- or long-term plans. It sees huge potential in the MPV and SUV segments considering that they account for only 15 per cent of the market in India whereas in western world the share is as much as 30 per cent.

This year, the company plans to tap the potential, specifically for Etios, in the semi-urban and rural areas.

Towards this, it would be expanding its dealer network from 173 to 220 during the year. It would set up workshops in small towns with big potential such as Tirupur, Asansol and a few locations in Punjab.

On Etios, he said the market for such cars was huge — 10 lakh units. The company had sold 60,000 Etios last year and planned to sell 80,000 this year, he added.

Managing Coordinator (Marketing Division) of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Hitoshi Fukui said Toyota wished to be a part of the growth of motor sport in the country. MRF would supply tyres for the cars that would participate in the races.

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