Automobile major Toyota, through its joint venture with the Kirloskar group, on Wednesday, began exporting Etios cars, manufactured at the Bangalore plant, to South Africa.
The first batch, of 247 Etios, were loaded on to m.v.Antares Leader, a roll-on-roll-off vessel, at the Ennore port in the presence of two Karnataka Ministers, R. Ashoka and Murugesh R. Nirani, and senior executives of the joint venture, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Ltd (TKM), including its Vice-Chairman Vikram Kirloskar.
Addressing presspersons after the function, TKM Managing Director Hiroshi Nakagawa said the company was looking to export 20,000 Etios to South Africa annually. In a release, he said with the export of Etios “we have been successful in completing our vision of making Toyota Indian operations a strategic hub for both the domestic and global markets.”
Toyota SA Motors (PTY) Ltd Senior Vice-President (Sales and Marketing) Calvyn Hamman said that Etios was expected to help the South African company improve its market share, which it lost, with a presence in the growing small car segment. The demand for smaller vehicles was on the rise in South Africa, he said, adding that Etios would be promoted as an entry-level car for middle class households. The entry-level Etios would be priced at 116,000 Rands (about Rs.7.60 lakh), including the service plan.
The export model of Etios is built on the same platform as Etios and Etios Liva, manufactured and sold in India. However, it would be customised to suit the local requirements. The company will export only the petrol variants.
Mr. Hamman said the modification included tyres to withstand higher speed. While the average speed on highways in South Africa is 120 kmph, motorists tend to go up to 160 kmph. The size of the automobile market (all vehicles, including trucks) is 5.90 lakh and the share of Toyota SA Motors in it is 18.5 per cent.
TKM Deputy Managing Director (Marketing) Sandeep Singh said the company was doing well after the launch of Etios and was focussed on expanding in to semi-urban and rural markets.