Toyota Innova Crysta
Despite a steep increase in prices over the last model, the demand for the new Innova Crysta is very high – was that expected?
What we looked at initially, and what the customer also appreciates, is the value-for-money quotient of the product. If you look at the increase in prices, that’s majorly because of two factors. First, it’s an all-new model with a new design, and, secondly, there are a lot of new features – including an automatic gearbox. An automatic transmission alone adds up to Rs. 50,000-70,000. So, if you do an apples-to-apples comparison, the hike in prices is there for a reason. And it got acceptance largely because the customer expectations were met, since there’s long been demand for a new Innova that looks and feels premium on the inside and out. So, the design has a bit of an SUV stance, which really appeals to the Indian customers – while the interior design and features are also appreciated equally.
Do you think this spike in demand is because the model is new, or do you believe you can sustain these kinds of volumes going through next year?
Based on the order flow, we believe that we can sustain this volume level for the next year or so. This is the first time that we’ve introduced the Innova with an automatic gearbox, so we benchmarked it against the previous Fortuner automatic – forecasting that 50% of the sales will come from the automatic version. But, initially, the demand for the Innova AT rose to over 70% of the total volumes. Now it’s come down and stabilized at 60%, and in 6 months or so we expect it to hover around 50%. Also, around 50-60% of new Innova buyers are existing Toyota customers. So, we don’t see any problem in carrying forward this momentum through next year.
What’s the response to the petrol derivative of the Innova Crysta been so far?
The petrol version was launched largely for the NCR and other markets, like Kerala – but currently it’s sales split stands at around 5%.
What’s your take on the advancement of the Euro 6 norms? Do you think it’ll be a challenge for manufacturers?
Toyota wholeheartedly supports any government initiative that’s aimed towards the environment. The only challenge is that we need a definitive timeline so that we can develop products accordingly. For example, the Euro 6 norms were supposed to be applicable in 2023 at first, but the government has now decided to leapfrog from Euro 4 to Euro 6 directly in 2020. Although we’re already working towards it, the government has to ensure that Euro 6 fuel is available across the country right from the start, since a Euro 6 vehicle won’t run on Euro 4 fuel.
What about the new safety norms that are being proposed for 2017?
All of our products meet global safety norms, and it’s no different for cars made in India. So, we’re ready for it. On the safety front, we’ve incorporated some serious measures like making dual airbags, ABS and EBD standard across all models. Safety is paramount, and with the increasing awareness among people customers really appreciate our move.
Do the rising pollution levels in most of our metros make a stronger case for your hybrid models?
Yes, definitely. The main benefit of using hybrid tech in cars is that it doesn’t require huge infrastructural changes. If the government considers that and supports manufacturers more, there can be a rapid transition on that front, which is actually the need of the hour. After the diesel ban and the odd-even policy, customers have become more aware. We’ve seen tremendous hike in the demand for our Camry Hybrid – not just in Delhi-NCR, but across the whole country. Over 95% of the Camry sales are hybrids in India.
In regards to the new Fortuner, what sales split do you expect between the petrol and diesel variants? Also, the Fortuner will face stiff competition from the Ford Endeavour – do you think you can retain your market share?
This is the first time that we’ve introduced the Fortuner with a petrol engine. So, we’re really curious to see how it performs. We’re expecting a positive response, especially in Delhi/NCR. As for competition, we think we’ll do well irrespective. You see, the Fortuner is the only car that has managed 75% market share in a segment. The product DNA, the strength of the product, low cost of maintenance, and customer trust give us the confidence that we’ll do well with the new model.
Given the success of SUVs in India, any plans to launch a small SUV in the near future?
The Indian customers’ preference for SUVs is growing stronger no doubt. Our parent company is visiting and studying the market, and there will be a lot of work going on to see if a new, smaller product makes sense for us. But nothing is confirmed for the near future.
How do you see the implementation of GST affecting the auto industry?
Initially, the media speculated that GST would help the auto industry with price reductions. But, as explained by the finance ministry recently, the higher segment cars will attract 28% tax, plus additional cess. So, I don’t think that it’ll make much of a difference for us or for our customers. But, yes, the tax structure will be streamlined – which will be helpful for us and our dealers. GST will also help the country’s economy grow, so, on the whole, it’s a good call.