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Toyota to launch more hybrid models; resumes production of Camry hybrid

K Giriprakash | | Updated on: Feb 26, 2018

Toyota Kirloskar has resumed production of its premium hybrid model Camry and is expected to launch a number of hybrid versions among all categories.

While Camry’s production has been resumed, the sales have gone down by one-fourth to 25 per month. “We had to stop the production of hybrid Camry for a while because our stock had built up as the tax rate had gone up,” Shekar Vishwanathan, Vice-Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar, told BusinessLine .

He said the production of the 2018 batch has been resumed, but the sales have gone down from 100 units to 25 units per month after the increase in GST which has resulted in the price going up by about 13 per cent to around ₹42 lakh.

Tax rate

He said the company expects to introduce hybrid models lower than the Camry but it all depends on the tax rate.

“Our intent is to bring more models at lower segments as much as possible. But first, we want the tax rate to be a little more sensible from the customer’s point of view.” Toyota has 34 hybrid models out of 130-odd models ranging from small cars to the Lexus range. The Yaris sedan is expected to hit the showrooms sometime in May.

Toyota’s senior executive said Yaris, which is a notch below the Corolla Altis, will from the safety standpoint be given primary importance but more models will be introduced once the industry digests the BS-VI norm.

Battery cost

One of the reasons for launching a hybrid version of the high-end Camry initially was to gauge the behaviour of the vehicle on the road.

“There are fewer cars that get sold because of the higher price point which allows us to observe the behaviour of the vehicle in terms of how battery is coping with heat, the humidity, and other conditions. What runs well in the US may not necessarily do well in Thailand or Indonesia.

“That is the risk we have to carry. We have to price that risk into the product price. Can we price it forever? No. Once we get to a certain learning curve, we go up the learning curve. But for the last three years, our experience with hybrids in India have been very good.”

Hence, the time has come to have some aggressive pricing in the category, he said.

Vishwanathan said one of the reasons for pushing hybrids is because the delay in setting up charging infrastructure, which is the heart of the electric vehicle.

“Once you push enough number of hybrids into the market with enough battery manufacturing taking place in India, then the volumes go up. When the volumes go up, the battery cost will come down,” he pointed out.

Ashim Sharma, Principal & Division Head for Auto at Nomura Research Institute, said that hybrid vehicles have a real chance of performing well in India along with electric vehicles as both have common components.

“There is a lot of synergy between electric and hybrid vehicles as far as components are concerned which will get more volumes than sticking to just one technology.”

Published on February 26, 2018
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