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Toyota strikes the right chord with Crysta

Murali Gopalan | Updated on January 17, 2018

A winner Top Toyota officials at the launch of Innova Crysta

Loyal Innova buyers queue up, automatic version sales surge; red much in demand

When the Innova Crysta was first showcased at the Auto Expo in February, there was already a ban on registration of 2000cc diesel vehicles in Delhi.

Like other automakers, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) hoped that this would be lifted by the time the Crysta was officially launched. While nothing of the sort has happened so far, N Raja, Director & Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, will still have reason to feel reasonably content.

While the absence of a key market like Delhi has doubtless been a dampener for TKM, it is the runaway success of the Crysta that has been a huge comfort to the team involved with its retail efforts. Over the last three months since the vehicle was launched, nearly 25,000 units have been sold thus far with an order backlog of 10,000 more.

The tally would have been even higher if Delhi and the NCR region had been included but there is little that TKM can do at this point in time. It is precisely for this reason that a petrol version of this multipurpose vehicle will be launched soon exclusively for this market.

Despite these hiccups, the Crysta marks a triumph of a carefully planned marketing strategy since the time it was first unveiled at the Expo. Over the following two months, it was important to liquidate stocks of the old Innova before kicking off any kind of sales activity on its Crysta successor.It was from April that TKM’s marketing team and its dealers began reaching out to the five lakh owners of the Innova to update them about the new offering. This was made possible thanks to an exhaustive customer database which helped in accessing them. “Today, 65 per cent of Crysta customers are from the Innova family who have moved on here,” says a delighted Raja.

In a way, the momentum already started at the Expo when visitors thronged the TKM pavilion to take a good look at the Crysta.

The company announced its price on May 2 though there was really no big activity. With Delhi and the NCR region out of bonds for the vehicle, an alternative launch schedule was quickly drawn up.

Lucknow, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune and Kochi were zeroed in and deliveries of Crysta started on May 9. Bookings were going strong and it was for the first time that an automatic option was launched.

The marketing strategy involved a full page advertisement of the Crysta in newspapers on May 4. Dealerships were soon full of eager customers keen on finding out more and the news spread like wildfire. It was only in mid-July that the TV campaign started as part of the second retail phase.

“What was interesting was that the first 4-5 days showed a frenzied interest for the automatic which took up 70 per cent of the bookings. Today, it is at 50 per cent I think it will stabilise at 45 per cent,” says Raja. In the process, there could be more women buyers queuing up for the automatic version while chaotic traffic conditions in cities will hasten this shift.

The Crysta also came out in red and bronze which attracted a lot of interest.

The big surprise, in particular, was red which took up 20 per cent of total numbers in the first three months and ended up being way higher than the average global preference for this colour. Going forward, TKM expect red and bronze to account for a combined 15 per cent.

There was a terrific response from Kerala initially but then when the National Green Tribunal stipulated a ban on 10-year-old diesel vehicles (later stayed by the High Court), it spooked potential buyers. Overnight, the order book flow stopped by 50 per cent and the momentum was abruptly derailed.

This is precisely why automakers like TKM are hoping for greater clarity once the Supreme Court addresses the diesel ban in Delhi. It will help them better understand the roadmap ahead while customers elsewhere in the country will become less paranoid about buying a diesel vehicle. All this will depend on what the SC finally rules.

And even while TKM plans to confine the petrol version to Delhi for now, there is no telling what could happen in the near term.For one thing, the market is rapidly moving away from diesel since the price differential vis-à-vis petrol is narrowing down. Though the diesel Crysta is clearly more powerful, customers may just want to play it safe and not risk being saddled with a diesel in the aftermath of the Delhi scare. In the coming years too, petrol will gain prominence especially with Bharat Stage VI norms kicking in from 2020. Automakers believe that diesel technology will become more expensive in the process which will build the momentum for petrol and hybrid options.

For the moment, Raja is keen on keeping the Crysta wave going which will involve targeting states like Maharashtra and Kerala during the festive seasons of Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam. The positive market response is also expected to have a rub-off on models like the Etios and Liva.

Published on August 04, 2016

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