Toyota Kirloskar, the second biggest Japanese car brand in India, is exploring opportunities in the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment that could be priced below ₹10 lakh following an unabated increase in consumer demand for such vehicle body types.

The maker of successful models like the Innova Crysta and the Fortuner does not have any product of its own in the sub ₹10 lakh category. The Toyota Urban Cruiser — its only SUV priced below ₹10 lakh — is a product developed by Maruti Suzuki which is sold as Vitara Brezza.

Responding to a query from BusinessLine, on whether Toyota  would look at SUVs in the sub ₹10 lakh segment, Tadashi Asazuma, Executive Vice President – Sales and Customer Service, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said, “We acknowledge that demand for SUVs is increasing and many of them (customers) are choosing SUV as one option of their choice. We are also hearing a lot of requests and requirements from the customer and based on that, we are now thinking how we can produce and promote those SUVs in our line-up.”

Rising demand

Utility vehicles (UV), comprising SUVs, multi-utility vehicles and vans, have steadfastly captured nearly half of India’s passenger vehicle market with SUVs having a lion’s share of it. SUVs have become the preferred choice of buyers due to their higher practicality, better driving experience, richer comfort and space compared to sedans and hatchbacks.  

According to data supplied by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), UVs saw an increase of 41 percent in volumes (1.27 million) during the April-February period, which was much higher than the 14 percent growth of the passenger vehicle sales (2.77 million) during the same year.  

The Toyota Urban Cruiser

The Toyota Urban Cruiser

The Urban Cruiser is one of the top-selling models for Toyota Kirloskar, clocking around 2,500 units a month. Its volumes are only next to the Innova Crysta, which is Toyota’s best-performer in India with monthly volumes of 5,000-6,000 units.

While the sub-4-meter segment has continued to find buyers because of lower price, the segment just above it, with vehicle length of around 4.3 meter, is performing equally better. This slightly bigger segment is dominated by Korean brands Hyundai and Kia with Creta and Seltos, respectively. Both Toyota and Maruti Suzuki are targeting this segment as both companies do not have any presence here.

As per SIAM numbers, Toyota Kirloskar saw a growth of 36 percent in sales volumes during the April-February period this year to 106,630 units from 78,127 units sold in the same period last year. Two of its products — Urban Cruiser and Glanza — are not manufactured by it but are sourced from Maruti Suzuki and Suzuki Motor Gujarat.