Interview: Sandeep Singh, Deputy Managing Director, Marketing, Toyota Kirloskar Motor
ZW: What is the expected market share that the LIVA would have? Any annual figure that you can give us?
Sandeep: We plan to produce about 3500 units of the LIVA per month which we would surely increase through our double shifts and expanding our plant capacity. On a yearly basis, we can expect 60000 units per year production of the vehicle.
ZW: What according to you are the expectations that customers have from a Toyota hatchback?
Sandeep: The LIVA has been made with consideration of the mass Indian buyer in mind, just as the Etios was targeted somewhere between the premium sedan section like the Volkswagen Vento and others and the entry level sedan like the Swift DZire. The LIVA is targeted in the same way where it has all the main features (Read : Design and Style) like best in class cabin space and boot space, value for money and has a bold appeal to the overall look of the car. In short, the LIVA will turn out to be as the most affordable hatchback in the market.
ZW: At the time of launch of the Etios, Toyota faced a major backlog. How has Toyota geared up to ensure that customers don’t have to wait for the LIVA?
Sandeep: We are making up for the backlog and currently producing 7000 units a month for the Etios. By September this year, we plan to increase the production by 8000 units a month and keep on increasing so that the wait period for the Etios and also the LIVA is minimal. We did have problems with the Etios due to delays in imports of engines, transmission etc. Now, we plan to build most of the major parts as well so that are current import requirement of 30% goes down to 10%. By mid next year, we will produce 2, 50,000 units of the gearbox in out second plant for the Etios type transmission. The same will happen for the engines (Read : Engine and Transmission).
ZW: Ownership cost is essential in this segment. Has Toyota taken any steps to keep ownership cost low on the LIVA such as parts pricing, service interval etc.?
Sandeep: The Toyota motto has always been for a value for money ownership experience by keeping the frequency of parts getting replaced as low as possible and the availability of fast moving parts high. We are using the same principle as that of the Innova and have the same kind of preparedness as that we had at the launch of the Innova.
ZW: Toyota Dealerships across the country have been dealing with customers of a different kind with products like the Fortuner. Land Cruiser and Innova. Are the dealers ready with the mass market catering?
Sandeep: When Qualis was in production, they catered to the mass market as the Qualis was an MPV for the masses. By 2000 end, we had about 150 dealerships in the country and by another year we plan to increase the dealership numbers to 175 dealers across Indian soil and also cater to small cities. Also, earlier we had finance tie ups with six banks and have now been increased to thirteen banks which gives our customers a wider variety of options to choose from. With the Etios we also introduced our express maintenance service where a customer can fix an appointment and come to the showroom and as soon as his car enters the showroom, he would get his car serviced in the next 60 minutes. There are TV screens which show the current progress of the car and how much time will be taken to service the car. With Toyota, quality will never be a compromise.