Etios drives down luxury cab route

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on February 22, 2012

Key strategy: Toyota says the luxury cab positioning of Etios is in sync with its premium brand strategy. – G.R.N. Somashekar   -  Business Line

The Toyota Etios sedan, launched a little over a year ago, is now part of the growing luxury taxi segment in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

“We believe this is in sync with our premium brand strategy which will only take the Etios story forward. The luxury cab positioning is a critical part of that plan,” Mr Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told Business Line.

In Mumbai, where the Meru brand reigns supreme in the luxury cab segment, the Etios sedan will be part of a new ‘TAB' fleet launched earlier this month by the Nagpur-based SMS Infrastructure.

Toyota has already delivered over 600 cars (coloured red and white) with another 400 in the pipeline. This number could grow further in the coming months if the current demand for luxury cabs in the city is any indication.

Likewise, the Etios has also made its way into Delhi where the eventual volumes could be at par with Mumbai's in good time. Ahmedabad and Bangalore have also kicked off operations, albeit with smaller numbers.

Hyderabad is tipped to be next in line given the demand for top-end taxis at its sprawling airport which, like the one in Bangalore, is far-flung from the city.

Fuel used

Incidentally, cabs in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad operate on compressed natural gas while diesel is used in other metros. The Government is keen on making CNG available across India since it is cleaner and less expensive. This is where the likes of Reliance Industries, GAIL (India) and other oil companies will play a big role in the supply grid.

The luxury taxi business has grown rapidly in the last 5-7 years thanks largely to Meru which is the largest player in the country. Till then, customers had to cope with dilapidated cabs or overcrowded buses and trains. Today, Meru's green taxis (largely the Logan and Indigo) dominate the landscape in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Other players like Easy, Mega and Priyadarshini Cabs have also thrown their hats into the ring with SMS Infra being the latest entrant with the Etios.

All this marks a remarkable turnaround from the not-so-distant past when companies perceived the taxi segment as being distinctly downmarket in comparison to the personal user category. However, the huge growth in cities and towns has fuelled demand for better public transport solutions.

In the case of Bangalore and Hyderabad, their new airports spawned a huge mass of end-users who needed top-class cabs to get them to their offices and hotels. Companies like Mahindra & Mahindra saw this as a big opportunity for the Logan (now rechristened the Verito) to establish its presence. “The luxury cab business is no longer infra dig and companies can actually hope to grow their brands in the process,” an industry expert said.

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Published on February 22, 2012
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