Toyota showcases 'Etios', to be launched by early 2011

Toyota is investing about Rs3,200 crore to set up its second manufacturing facility in Bengaluru to roll out Etios by early 2011

The world's largest car maker, Toyota Motor Corp, on Tuesday unveiled its concept small car— the Etios—which has been specifically developed for the Indian market, reports PTI.

The company, which is present in India through a joint venture with the Kirloskar Group, is investing about Rs3,200 crore to set up its second manufacturing facility in Bengaluru to roll out the car by early 2011.

"We are very excited to finally showcase the concept of Etios, which has been newly developed specifically for customers in India. Our tagline represents the choice of India for the global premiere of the Etios concept, following which, export to other countries will be evaluated," Toyota Motor's vice chairman Kazuo Okamoto told reporters at the 10th Auto Expo in New Delhi.

India will play a pivotal role in Toyota's global expansion plans and the company will strategically accelerate its growth in the country, he added.

"After the slowdown, we are now in a difficult situation and we are trying to achieve constant recovery. The Indian market is very important and big for Toyota and it is expected to grow up to four million units by 2015," Mr Okamoto said.

The company will launch both hatchbacks and sedans under the Etios series with 1.2 litre and 1.5 litre petrol engine respectively.

"With the introduction of Etios, we will enter the mass volume segment. We are looking at sales of 70,000 units in the first year so that our customers can get access to world-class quality standards of Toyota," Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) managing director Hiroshi Nakagawa said. TKM targets about 10% share of the Indian passenger car segment by 2015. The car market is pegged at over 12 lakh units, he added.

The company has been developing the model for the last four years with the help of over 2,000 engineers from its Indian and Japanese operations.

"The preparation for launching the small car is on track. The plan conception, supply to our base and dealer network expansion is going on," Mr Nakagawa said.

The production of the small car will start by December this year and would be launched by early 2011, he said, but declined to give details whether the first one would be a hatchback or a sedan. The company plans to expand dealership outlets to 150 by the end of 2010 from its existing 97 outlets.

Besides Etios, the company has also showcased its hybrid 'Prius' at the Expo, which will be launched in the country by March this year, TKM deputy managing director for marketing Sandeep Singh said.

TKM also launched the CNG version of its luxury sedan 'Corolla Altis'.

The company reported over 7% growth in its sales in the country last year at 55,497 units and is expecting a jump of 15%-20% in 2010, Mr Singh said.


Not yet contacted by UK government on Teeside plants: Tata

Everybody hopes that the Teeside plants will not be shut down but it is a matter of market dynamics and Tata Steel cannot continue losing hundreds of millions of pounds to keep the plants operational, says JJ Irani, director, Tata Sons

The Tata Group on Tuesday said that the British government has not yet contacted it on the possible options to avoid closure of Corus steel plants in Teeside that could result in 1,700 job losses, reports PTI.

"We haven't heard anything from the British government so far. There is some political activity in England to keep it (the plant) going. As far as I know, we have not been contacted by the British government," Tata Sons director JJ Irani said today.

Due to mounting losses, Tata Steel Europe announced last May the suspension of some of the facilities belonging to Corus' Teeside Cast Products business in north-east England.

Fearing 1,700 people would be rendered jobless, British prime minister Gordon Brown on the New Year even promised to talk to Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata as a last-ditch effort to cancel the closure.

"Everybody hopes that it will not be shut down but it is a matter of market dynamics. We cannot continue losing hundreds of millions of pounds to keep the plants going," Mr Irani said.

The Tata Group plans to mothball the plant by the end of this month. "It will be (re-)started at a future date. The plant is not going to be dismantled or sold or anything like that, it will be mothballed," Mr Irani said.

In 2007, Tatas had acquired Corus for £6.2 billion.

The collapse of the Teeside plant, Mr Irani said, was because the four firms, which bought 80% of the products, walked away after cutting short a 10-year contract.

"In 2006-07, prices were at their peak, so as soon as the steel prices fell, these off-takers found difficulties in selling our semis (semi-finished products), so these people walked away from the contract although it was for a 10-year period. We are of course fighting a legal battle with them but the outcome will take some time," Mr Irani said.

The global steel industry has been hit by a collapse in orders from the auto and construction sectors which have suffered during the economic downturn. Corus has already cut about 6,000 jobs in Britain and the Netherlands since the start of 2009.


Maruti Suzuki expects 10% growth in 2010; unveils concept MPV

On an annualised basis, Maruti Suzuki has grown about 9.5%-10% over the last two years and expects the same rate of growth in calendar year 2010

The country's largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, on Tuesday said that it expects sales to grow around 10% in 2010, reports PTI. The company also said that it will bring premium sedans based on the concept Kizashi by the end of 2010 into India.

"In 2009, our sales grew by about 22% compared with 2008. But since 2008 was a bad year, if we look back and compare (our performance) with the growth two years ago, we have grown by just about 19%," Maruti Suzuki India's managing director Shinzo Nakanishi told reporters at the Auto Expo in New Delhi.

"So, on an annualised basis, we have grown about 9.5%-10% in the last two years. We expect the same rate of growth in the calendar year 2010," he added.

The company today unveiled a small multi-purpose concept vehicle (MPV) 'rIII', as it looks to create a new segment.

“There is room for creating a new segment in the small MPV and that is what we aim to do,” Mr Nakanishi said. The concept vehicle has been developed by Maruti Suzuki at its research and development centre.

Mr Nakanishi also said that towards the end of this year, the company would be launching the Kizashi sedan in India. The sedan has already been launched in Japan. The company is still deciding whether to import the sedans or assemble them in India.


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