Toyota Kirloskar plans to launch its Land Cruiser Prado, among the largest selling SUVs globally, in India
Those who love lethal and menacing looking (and sounding) sports utility vehicles have something to cheer about. After the Japanese super premium priced Nissan X-Trail hit the domestic market recently yet another premium sports utility vehicle is scheduled for launch by the end of the month.
Toyota Kirloskar has firmed up plans to launch its Land Cruiser Prado in India. The Prado is among the largest selling SUVs globally as is nearly every Toyota vehicle and will be positioned in the premium bracket.
The 8-seater Landcruiser Prado is equipped with a 4-litre VVTi (variable valve timing intelligence) V6 engine that generates 235 bhp and offers a run of 5-6 kms per litre.
Toyota plans to bring in completely built units of the V6, 4-litre petrol engine version of the SUV from its plant in Japan. The eight-seater 235-bhp Prado will have features like 5-speed auto-transmission, permanent four-wheel drive, dual zone air-conditioning, height control mechanism and the Electronic Modulated Suspension that Toyota is famous for.
Toyota is targeting sales of an estimated thousand units in the first year.
The company has still not finalised the price though the industry expects the Japanese carmaker will pit it against Mitsubishi Pajero, which sells for Rs 32 lakh.
Recently Toyota announced the 2005 Prado in the international market. The New Prado has six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions instead of the usual five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions on its VX variant. To reduce vibration and noise in the automatic version the company has incorporated automatic transmission linear solenoid (SLT) to reduce shift shocks.
Automatic transmission fluid with reduced viscosity is used to enhance fuel economy and durability. All new artificial intelligence shift (Ai-Shift) control is implemented for realising comfortable driving by automatically switching the shift schedule (up and down shifts) according to road conditions.
Globally the new Prado is available in 2.7 litre and 4 litre petrol variants. Its engine is a four-cylinder, in-line, 16-valve, DOHC, Efi, VVTi engine. The company has incorporated the VVTi (variable valve timing intelligent) technology in the new Prado to achieve superior performance.
In India Toyota Kirloskar Motors is also planning to launch the Innova launched in Indonesia earlier this year, (not confirmed) to replace the Qualis model.
Since its introduction, the Land Cruiser Prado has established a global reputation of being a vehicle that is tough enough to survive the most trying road and driving conditions and has the mark of quality of a Toyota vehicle as well. Premium SUVs present in the Indian market are thus bound to feel the heat of the Prado. However, in case Toyota prices the Prado in the super premium bracket of Rs 30 lakh plus it might not pose that much of a threat.
SUV sales have growing 65 per cent year-on-year in India. The biggest sellers are SUVs or MUVs in the popular segment such as the Toyota Qualis, the GM Tavera, the Tata Safari and M&M's Scorpio and Bolero. The premium end of the SUV segment is dominated by Ford's Endeavour priced between Rs 13 lakh to Rs 15 lakh, Hyundai India's Terracan priced at Rs 18 lakh, General Motor's Forrester priced between Rs 16-17 lakh and Suzuki's Grand Vitara at Rs 15 lakh.
A step below comes the Nissan X-Trail (Rs20-Rs24 lakh), the Suzuki Grand Vitara V6 (Rs 18 lakh) and the Hyundai Terracan. The entry level CBU SUV race is between the Honda CRV and the Chevrolet Forester (Rs12-Rs15 lakh) while Ford assembles the Endeavour (Rs14 lakh) in India.
The biggest sellers in the SUV / MUV category are the popularly priced (Rs5 lakh to Rs8 lakh) Toyota Qualis, GM Tavera, Tata Safari and M&M's Scorpio and Bolero.
According to a Toyota official the Indian auto market is expected to double to 2 million units by 2010. The company plans to corner a market share between 10 per cent and 15 per cent by introducing additional models, which would boost sales, he said.
Toyota Kirloskar Motors, a joint venture between Toyota Motor and the Kirloskar group, was established in August 1997 with a paid-up capital of Rs 700 crore. Since then, it has invested Rs 200 crore in the Indian market and is spending another Rs 130-160 crore in 2004-05, to increase its capacity to 60,000 units from 45,000.
The company's plant, located on the outskirts of Bangalore, currently manufactures the Qualis multi utility vehicle and the Corolla mid-size cars. It imports the luxury Camry sedan as a completely built unit.
Toyota has a 12 per cent share of the global sports utility vehicle segment.
The 2004 edition of Prado is priced between $32,000 and $39,000, in the US market depending on its features.