Toyota kicks off ‘Go Rural' drive; plans more dealerships in smaller cities

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2017 Published on May 06, 2012


Toyota will have rural India on its radar as it expands the market for its Etios hatchback and sedan this year.

The company launched an initiative called ‘Go Rural' in the last quarter of 2011 where a pilot study was carried out in the eastern region.

Cars were put on display in the Durgapur area in West Bengal and the response was encouraging enough for Toyota to understand that smaller centres in India were critical to its growth.

“This was the beginning of our ‘Go Rural' drive. We had our dealers try out something similar in other parts of the country where cars were showcased on select days in a month. We were amazed to see that brand Toyota had so much goodwill despite our relatively negligible presence,” Mr Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, told Business Line.

By February, the ‘Go Rural' momentum had intensified with a growing list of interested customers.

There were 160 bookings last month and Toyota has targeted at least 500 more each month between now and end-July. It also hopes to have in place 25 dealerships in these smaller centres by the end of this year, going up to twice as much in 2013.

More options

“This is top priority for us especially when we have been perceived as a city-centric player. It was justified then considering that we largely had the Corolla and Innova to offer. However, the Etios is a mass range product and we just cannot afford to miss rural India,” Mr Singh said.

Interestingly, a section of buyers in this part of the country have also expressed interest in more expensive options like the Fortuner and Innova. However, Toyota is focusing largely on the Etios especially when it plans to roll out 80,000 cars this year.

This number will grow to over 1.5 lakh units in 2013 which means the dealership network will have to extend to every nook and corner of India. The rural drive is not unique to Toyota with Maruti and Hyundai having kicked this off a lot earlier.

Small regions

Other carmakers are also following suit rapidly especially when customers here are quite open to trying out new brands unlike the big cities where the loyalty factor is more pronounced.

“People in smaller towns have enough and more money at their disposal to buy a car. They also know precisely what they want in a vehicle,” Mr Singh said. Companies such as Toyota are beginning to realise that it makes greater sense to tap these regions when growth prospects for the automobile industry are still uncertain this fiscal.

Published on May 06, 2012
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