Barely two months since Toyota Kirloskar Motor launched the Innova Crysta, and bookings are pouring in from across India. In an email response, N Raja, Director & Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, says response has been overwhelming with close to 30,000 bookings in place. The waiting period as a result is around months. According to him, most of the demand is from the private segment for the higher end.

Hopeful despite odds

Since its launch in May, sales of the Crysta have totalled 16,728 units. “With the rising demand, we are working towards reducing the waiting period,” says Raja. What is especially comforting for Toyota is the fact that the response has been overwhelming despite the ban of 2000cc diesel vehicles in Delhi. “The diesel ban has definitely affected the sales of Crysta in the important NCR market,” agrees Raja. This region accounts for seven per cent of Toyota’s sales and would have made a substantial difference to the order book tally of the Crysta.

Yet, there is some hope that all this could come to an end once the Supreme Court lifts the ban and offers a solution for diesel carmakers to come back into the Delhi automotive fold. Indications are that an environment cess could be levied on diesel cars, which perhaps is a better option to having them completely off the roads. The ban has been a huge blow to Toyota and Mercedes Benz whose bread-and-butter business comprises mainly 2000cc plus cars. Both companies were concerned that this would affect investments in India since their respective headquarters in Japan and Germany would not take a kindly view of constant changes in policy. What has especially been hurtful is the fact that the ban has been in force since last December which pretty much paved the way for other automakers to fill the void left behind by Toyota and Mercedes. There are also fears that dealerships could have seen a mass exodus of employees who would have been tired of waiting for good news to turn up.

Lost ground

Even after the lifting of the ban, it may not be the easiest of tasks for the companies to get back on track overnight. Their supply systems have taken a beating over the last seven months and putting things back in place will take a while. It also remains to be seen if customers will be wary of registering a vehicle in Delhi, fearing another ban encore.

Clearly, pollution in the Capital goes beyond diesel fumes emitted from automobiles even as manufacturers insist that their vehicles are absolutely safe and adhere to emission norms. The problem is that diesel has constantly faced a backlash from sections of policymakers who insist that it is a foul fuel. The truth, however, is that it is the older diesel trucks that need to be replaced in a hurry.

For Toyota, the best piece of news is that its Innova brand is growing from strength to strength. The fact that a lion’s share of bookings is for the top-end Crysta which retails at ₹20 lakh plus is sufficient proof that its price tag is no deterrent. Once the petrol sibling also joins the rally, numbers are only expected to grow further.