Taking a cue from the growth experienced by rivals like BMW, Mercedes and Audi, Toyota is planning to launch its luxury car Lexus in India. The Japanese auto major is also looking to kickstart its car finance division, Toyota Financial Services, to boost sales.
Hiroshi Nakagawa, MD of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, said the company was considering a series of new initiatives as it expands in India. “We are studying, and now more deeply considering to bring Lexus to India,” Nakagawa said.
Riding on the rising affluence, the market for luxury cars in India has been growing rapidly as German companies like BMW, Audi, Mercedes as well as Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover increase their stake. Most of the companies reported over 70 percent growth in volumes last year and expect healthy gains in the coming years as well.
“India is a key focus market for Toyota and we are looking at ways to increase our footprint as well as product offerings,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy MD (sales and marketing).
The company officials said Lexus could be retailed by separate dealerships. “Traditionally, Toyota does not share dealer network with Lexus. However, we cannot be too sure about India as it is too early now,” Singh said. The company is also considering to start a finance arm to remain protected from the vagaries of fluctuations in car finance market.
“Toyota Financial Services is very keen to set up operations in India. Their market study is almost over, though a final decision on entry is still pending.”
Toyota is not the only company to go for a captive finance arm. Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW have similar finance arms to aid retail and wholesale sales, though they also avail financing from banks and other independent institutions.
The company, which launched a new variant of its premium sedan Corolla Altis, said it would miss its sales target in India in 2011 by about 10,000 units on account of production cut after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami.
“Earlier we had a target of 1,50,000 units for this year. But now that has been reduced to 1,40,000 units due to the one-month production cut following the tsunami in Japan,” Singh said. The company will introduce its small car Liva by the end of this month.