Toyota's First Low-Priced Small Car in India Sees Strong Orders

Advance orders for the Etios are 17% of annual target

Toyota said on Dec. 15 that it had received strong advance orders in India for the Etios small car, which it has designed especially for the subcontinent's booming auto market.

The 1.5-liter sedan, priced from 496,000 rupees (US$10,945), is Toyota's first low-priced small passenger model put on the Indian market. It is manufactured at a new plant in Bangalore that employs over 2,000 workers.

Before the car is rolled out and hits dealerships, advance orders have already reached 12,000 units since December 1, or about 17% of the annual target of 70,000, said the car maker.

"The orders went beyond my expectations," Toyota's chief engineer Yoshinori Noritake said, standing next to a pre-production prototype of the Etios at the company's Tokyo headquarters.

"We have already received some 12,000 orders for the first two weeks, even before production begins later this month," another Toyota official said, adding that deliveries are expected to start early next year.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, plans to release a hatchback version of the Etios, with an engine displacement of 1.2 liters, in April, targeting combined annual sales for the two models at 70,000 units.

The company is considering exporting the Etios to other countries from India, possibly including developed countries, in future, said Noritake.

The Indian auto market -- Asia's third-largest after China and Japan -- is projected to triple in size over the next decade to six million cars a year from the current two million, according to industry estimates.

Toyota has so far had a marginal 3% share of the Indian auto market, while Maruti Suzuki has enjoyed a 45.8% share, and Hyundai secured a 15.9% share last year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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