TThe increasing popularity of diesel cars has led Toyota Kirloskar Motor to consider a new diesel engine plant. This move comes just as the new petrol engine plant (one lakh unit a year output) at its Bangalore facility began operations this month.
Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director (Marketing), said that a feasibility study for a diesel engine plant is currently being done by the Japanese parent Toyota Motor Corporation. A decision is expected in the next few months.
The “market dynamics” have created a need for diesel engines, however, lack of clarity on Government policy front as regards diesel pricing and taxation issue can prove a deterrent, Singh said.
With 78 per cent of Toyota’s domestic sales coming from diesel variants of Etios, Corolla, Fortuner and Innova, a diesel engine plant will bolster the profitability of the Japanese carmaker. At present, it pays a custom duty on imported engines, which is impacted by the adverse forex impact of the strong Yen and weak Rupee against the dollar.
Toyota Kirloskar has launched the seventh generation Camry premium sedan at Rs 23.80 lakh, though it will only sell a single variant with a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated to an automatic transmission.
First launched in 2002 in India, the locally assembled Camry competes with market leader Skoda Superb, followed by the Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Teana.
Asked why the carmaker did not consider a diesel option, Singh said that globally Toyota has only petrol and hybrid variants of the sedan available. “We’re not looking at numbers, we want to give the customer an experience of the car,” he said, adding that 50 bookings have already been received. The premium sedan segment market size is about 24,000 units and growing at 15 per cent annually. About 65 per cent of the sales come from diesel models - which only Superb and Passat offer.