Toyota, the world’s largest car maker, is set to double its production capacity in India as its new plant in Bangalore, with an investment of nearly $680 million, will be operational by the end of this year.

“The new plant will have an annual production capacity of 70,000 units. It will double our production capacity in India,” Mitsuhiro Sonoda, Toyota Motor President for Asia-Pacific, told IANS.

Mr. Sonoda said Toyota planned to introduce new models in India in hybrid and small car segments.

The company plans to launch Etios in India in both sedan and hatchback versions by the end of this year.

The Japanese car maker operates in India through a joint venture with the Kirloskar Group.

Talking to IANS, Managing Coordinator of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Toshiaki Ozawa said the company was working on several new models that would be specifically suited for the Indian market.

“We are working on India specific models because Indian market is different... It is more price sensitive,” said Mr. Ozawa, adding most of its upcoming models would be priced at around Rs.10 lakh.

Toyota currently sells utility vehicle ‘Innova’, premium sedan ‘Corolla Altis’ and sports utility vehicle ‘Fortuner’ All these models are produced at its plant in Bangalore.

The company also sell premium sports utility vehicle ‘Prado’ and luxury sedan ‘Camry’ in Indian market. These models are imported from Japan.

Mr. Ozawa said because of high duties the company finds it difficult to sell imported premium SUVs and sedans in Indian market. India levies up to 60 per cent duties on imports of certain models of car.

“Toyota last year sold more than 55,000 cars in India,” Ozawa said, adding the company expected a sharp jump in the number this year.

In 2011, the company’s total production capacity will increase to 140,000 cars. Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s existing facility, which is also located in Bangalore, has the capacity to produce 70,000 units annually.

Ozawa said the company was confident to sell all the cars that it would produce as demand was likely to remain strong in India on the back of high economic growth and favourable interest rates regime.

Car sales in India is estimated to increase by nearly 30 per cent this year. In April-July quarter car sales rose 35 per cent to 592,405 units.

According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, annual car sales in India is likely to reach 3 million by 2015. Passenger-car sales jumped 38 percent to a record 158,764 in July.

Global majors like Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen are increasing their presence in one of the world’s fastest growing car markets.

Maruti Suzuki, which controls nearly half the Indian car market in terms of sales, is also planning to build a new factory at Manesar, near New Delhi, to cater to the increasing demand of cars in the country.

Maruti Suzuki currently has the capacity to produce over 1 million vehicles a year from its four existing production facilities. From the fifth plant the company targets to produce nearly 300,000 more vehicles.

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