Toyota Kirloskar Motor eyes more touchpoints in rural market

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on January 06, 2021

Plans vehicle servicing facilities in smaller cities

Toyota Kirloskar Motor plans to increase its touchpoints in the rural market, with a strong focus on services. It will aim to be present in cities where it currently does not have a presence, and grow its footprint across the country, a top company official said.

This is in keeping with the strategy of delving into rural areas that the company has been following from 2020, when it added around 60 new dealerships, which amounted to being present in around 45 new cities where TKM had no dealerships until then, Naveen Soni, Senior Vice President, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), told BusinessLine.

The availability of services is a predominant factor for those looking to buy a Toyota car in rural India, he said.

Also read: Toyota Kirloskar posts 14% growth in domestic sales at 7,487 units in Dec

“From the sales point of view, you can get the vehicles delivered at your doorstep, even in rural townships. It’s the servicing that you don’t want to travel for, and you would want the dealership to be in your township to get the vehicle serviced. This is what we have seen, and considering this, we have started this journey last year. And we will continue it this year also ― of adding more cities where Toyota dealerships were not present,” explained Soni. Currently, the Bangalore-based company has over 416 touchpoints across the country.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor on Wednesday launched the new Toyota Fortuner and the new Legender. The new Fortuner is available at a price range of ₹29.98 lakh - ₹37.43 lakh (ex-showroom, except Kerala). The Legender is available at ₹37.58 (ex-showroom, except Kerala).

The company’s plan to increase its service touchpoints in the rural market is also in line with the product lines that it is selling now, with the smaller car customers wanting the services in their townships rather than having to travel long distances to avail of the same, added Soni. “So, now that we are getting into that segment (smaller cars) more deeply, we have to provide that comfort (of service availability) to customers,” he said.

TKM also plans to focus on alternate mobility solutions, such as electrification, as a mid- to long-term strategy.

“It has been the company’s focus to develop various types of electrified vehicles. When I say electrified, I’m talking about the four main types ― the strong hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and, of course, the hydrogen cars. All these four types have three components which are common ― battery, motor and controller. Now, if you are able to localise these components, in the true spirit of ‘Make in India’ or ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, then you can actually become a successful electrified vehicle maker. That’s the vision that we have, and that will help the country’s priorities in terms of localisation.”

As per the global partnership between Toyota and Suzuki, TKM and Maruti Suzuki have been sharing cars using cross-badging strategy. TKM’s electrification strategy will also be an important part of this alliance, said Soni.

Also read: Toyota employees’ strike: Management, union still at loggerheads

In December, TKM posted a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in sales. From October onwards, there has been a gradual ramp-up of sales, with the last quarter being a “recovery quarter”, said Soni.

Soni is hopeful of a V-shaped recovery in the economy in 2021, which is expected to aid the auto sector. Going by the demand trend in the passenger vehicles sector in the last few months, along with news of the impending vaccine availability, he is confident demand should continue in the recovery mode.

Published on January 06, 2021

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