Toyota India rolls out first compact SUV as it expands market penetration
By Atul Ranjan
NEW DELHI, NNA- Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd. will expand its market presence with many more dealership outlets in the remaining months of the year as it goes big on promoting its first compact SUV to boost flagging sales amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the majority-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. rolled out the Urban Cruiser, which it hopes will attract motorists including first-time Toyota buyers. The compact SUV also marked its entry into this car segment which has been gaining popularity especially among young motorists.
It is the second model to be launched in India under the global alliance of Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. Last year, they launched the premium hatchback Glanza.
Masakazu Yoshimura, managing director of Toyota Kirloskar, said in a media statement, “Our entry into the compact SUV space comes at a time when the segment has gained much popularity due to its body type and superior road presence, thereby garnering greater connect and appeal among today’s youths.”
According to Naveen Soni, senior vice president of sales and service at Toyota Kirloskar, the model was designed to cater to this segment, and first-time Toyota buyers in particular.
Meanwhile, the company plans to increase its current dealership count from 374 to 442 by year-end besides revamping operations to “overcome harsh market condition”.
It hopes new outlets including those in smaller cities will also boost sales for the Urban Cruiser, which is seen as a trendy and largely affordable car.
“Our aim is to serve more and more customers and take Toyota closer to them. We are making every effort to improve our products, offering better services and digitalization of our sales operations,” the carmaker told NNA in a statement on Wednesday.
The company has digitalized the sales process and made provisions for vehicle delivery to the customer’s doorstep for online purchase.
During the last fiscal year ended March 2020 (FY19-20), the company’s dealership network had remained stable at 374 as it had stayed focused on strengthening the dealerships in the country.
Automakers like Toyota Kirloskar were hit hard by more than two months of nationwide lockdown that began March 25 to tackle the coronavirus pandemic which saw them facing zero domestic sales in April for the first time ever.
Now automakers are exploring new ways such as expanding retail presence amid dismal demand, especially hoping to entice buyers in the upcoming festive season starting next month.
“We expect that there will be good demand during the upcoming festive season. Keeping in mind the requirements of the consumer, we have also launched the subscription and the leased option to give greater flexibility for the consumers in cites such as Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai in the first phase,” Toyota Kirloskar said.
According to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Toyota Kirloskar’s domestic sales during the April-August period of the current fiscal year plunged down by 69.53 percent to 16,448 units compared to the same period last year.