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Saturday, Jan 19, 2002

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Toyota plans sedan on Corolla platform

Anand Krishnamoorthy

NEW DELHI, Jan. 18

BUOYED by the success of its Qualis utility vehicle, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd, is planning to produce a sedan in the country based on the Corolla platform, its General Manager (Marketing), Mr Sandeep Singh, said on Friday.

"Our next (locally produced) offering in the Indian market will be a mass car, a sedan based on the Corolla platform. A team is currently working on indigenisation of the vehicle and making it India-specific,'' Mr Singh told Business Line.

He declined to divulge the exact time of the launch. However, first to come to India from the Toyota stable will be the `Camry', a large luxury sedan aimed at showcasing the Toyota brand and its capability to produce high-end cars.

"We have a team working at our plant looking at India-specific products from the Toyota range across various segments,'' Mr Singh said.

The Corolla is the most sold car in the world, having overtaken the `Volkswagen Beatle'. It is available in 1.6-litre and 1.8-litre petrol engine versions.

Toyota Kirloskar, a joint venture between Japan's Toyota Motor Corp and the Kirloskar group, makes the Qualis utility vehicle at a plant in Bidadi, near Bangalore.

"We are very clear in our mind that if we produce in India, then we should be in a mass volume product. Import of cars through the CBU (completely built unit) route can only showcase technology, nothing more,'' he said on the sidelines of the Auto Expo.

"When we came in with the Qualis, that was precisely our philosophy,'' Mr Singh said. In order to build the Corolla-based car, Toyota needs to invest in a new assembly line.

Qualis prices hiked

Meanwhile, the company has raised the prices of its 2.447-litre Qualis utility vehicle by Rs 8,000-12,000 owing to increase in input prices.

Toyota is aiming to sell about 35,000 units of the Qualis in calendar 2002 as against 28,022 cars in 2001. The company has recently introduced a 2.0-litre, 90-bhp petrol variant of the Qualis vehicle priced at Rs 8.45 lakh.

"We do not intend to make many units of the petrol variant. We will wait to see the demand before ramping up production of the petrol variant,'' he said.

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