‘We want to solve issues concerning emission’

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 15, 2016

AKITO TACHIBANA, MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Company

Toyota MD believes hybrid is the solution for Indian market

Akito Tachibana took over as the new Managing Director of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Company last month. In an interview with BusinessLine, he shares his vision for the Indian operations of Toyota. 

What is your perspective of the operations of Toyota here? 

I have been working with Toyota for the last 30 years. India is my fourth overseas assignment. For me, India is a very challenging country in the world.

What I mean is that it is a very interesting country. People here think logically and it is easier to understand whatever they say.

Having said that, our market share is not big. Nearly 75 per cent of the automobile market here consists of small cars while we are strong in middle and high-end cars. It is only now Indian regulations concerning safety and emission are close to global standards and hence we hope to do well here. It was not the case here earlier. 

While you are the largest car maker in the world, your forays into India and China haven’t been that successful. 

We came late into India and China. We are not the type of company which says that there is a big market for small cars here and so let us invest in building small cars. Our first priority is to cater to the segment which buys our cars. We want to know what are the new vehicles an Innova and an Etios customers will look forward to. We want to satisfy them. What kind of cars is appropriate for them. This is what we want to do here. 

So what are the things that you would like to do here. What is your bucket list?

We don’t have any plans for getting a high share in India. We want to contribute to the Indian society and want to be known as a company which is close to the heart of the people here.

For example, we want to solve the issues concerning emission, air pollution and crude oil. We want to make more hybrid cars and fuel efficient cars. We believe hybrid is the solution for the Indian market.

We introduced Camry in 2013 but then the current hybrid technology is not cheap. We plan to introduce hybrid technology in our C segment models but I doubt we will ever have Etios hybrid models. 

One gets to hear a lot about Daihatsu planning to start making cars here. What is the status?

If you want a direct answer then there are no plans right now to introduce Daihatsu cars here. In August, we will start discussing in Japan the way forward for Daihatsu. Yes, India is one of the countries which we will discuss about. But as of now, there are no plans at all. 

Even though Etios and Liva are made-for-India models, they haven’t exactly set the market on fire. What do you think are the reasons for such a tepid response?

We would like to continuously develop and modify the models and make them better. We are considering some changes for Etios but it will be on a continuous basis.

Unfortunately, I can’t share our plans about these models right now. But we are considering several things to improve the models. 

Your company has been very vocal about the diesel ban here. Do you see any positive developments on that front?

We expect the closure of the issue during the next hearing. Look at it this way: Our dealers in Delhi will be hit most.

They will not be able to sell our new Innova there. It will impact our business hugely.

What surprises me is that these issues have cropped up suddenly. All of a sudden, our business has been stopped. I have never experienced such a thing before. 

Published on May 15, 2016
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