labels: toyota kirloskar motor, marketing - general, automotive
Toyota Innova''s upper-end success story news
28 June 2005

The upper-end Innova variants have been outselling the more economically priced versions.Mohini Bhatnagar reports.

Recent reports indicate that the Toyota Kirloskar''s multi utility-vehicle, the Innova, is not stepping into the shoes of its illustrious predecessor, the multi-utility vehicle Qualis, phased out by the company early this year. On the other hand it seems as if the Innova is carving out a far more glamorous slot altogether for itself, perhaps, the one that the company had envisaged for the Qualis.

Toyota Kirloskar had targeted the Qualis, with its quiet and powerful engine and refined interiors, at the personal car market. However, it ended up being more widely used by tour and taxi operators, perhaps, because of its looks and sturdiness. Even though the Qualis was an excellent vehicle in terms of build, engine size, power and torque, and was also hugely successful going by the numbers sold its image suffered as it tended to be equated with the Sumos of the world.

Auto analysts have now pronounced the Innova, launched in February this year, a success. Against targeted sales of 4,500 units per month, the Innova has sold over 13,000 units since its launch in February this year. June sales are expected to surpass 5,000 units

However, during this time a curious fact has emerged. Consumers seem to prefer the higher end G and V variants against the lower E trim, (targeted at taxi operators) which has air-conditioning as the only luxury. With inventories piling up of the entry level variants desperate dealers have been resorting to offering hefty discounts on the lower trims to push sales.

The E variant of the Innova has been selling at a discount of Rs10,000 to Rs30,000 in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore with the result that the price difference between the E and the upper end G and V variants has widened. In Mumbai, dealers were seen willing to offer a price cut of Rs10,000 over and above the Rs10,000 discount for buyers opting to buy the Innova against the exchange of any passenger vehicle

The ex-showroom price of the Innova E variant across the country ranges approximately between Rs6 lakh to Rs6.9 lakh while the G variant''s price ranges between Rs8 lakh to Rs8.6 lakh. The upper end V variant ranges between Rs9 lakh to Rs10 lakh.

In terms of engine size, power, torque, dimensions and other technical specs there is no difference among the Innova variants. Though the E variants have air-conditioning they do not have power steering, power windows, factory installed music system, and are available in three colours instead of six. The V variant at the upper end of the price spectrum has a host of safety features like ABS brake and airbags that the G variants doe not have.

Toyota, admitting that sales of its top end G1, G2, G3 and V versions have been better than the entry level model has announced a change in the output mix by increasing the production of the top end variants to reduce the waiting period for the car. The production of the two higher variants is now being scaled up to about 2,500 units a month from the present 1,500 units. With the change in the production mix the company hopes to bring down the waiting period for Innova from five months to one month. However, the company has ruled out a price cut for the lower end variants.

Clearly, buyers don''t seem to mind shelling out an extra Rs1.50 lakh for the top-end variants of the Innova. This fact seems to suggest a greater number of personal ownership for the Innova.

As the Qualis is not being manufactured anymore, Toyota may find one segment of the market drying up. The fact remains that even if the Qualis suffered from an image problem it still catered to a huge market as about 35 per cent of its sales were to taxi fleet operators. The Innova also has to contend with many more competitors that the Qualis never faced.

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Toyota Innova''s upper-end success story