Toyota have confirmed that they will be pulling the plug on their Etios twins – the sedan and the Liva hatchback. Both cars have been in the Indian market for almost a decade and despite minor facelifts, have fallen far behind the competition in terms of engine technology and aesthetics. Moreover, the BSVI norms shall no longer allow engines like the ones in these cars to be continued without the necessary advancements.
That being said, the investment required to be put in by the company in order to upgrade the engines on these two is way too much, to be spent on such low yielding developments.
Both the Etios and its younger, trunk-less version will be closing their final act by April next year, because of the company’s decision to exclude them from the BSVI emission norm ready line-up. Sales and demand figures in the last two years have been at an all time low for these two cars, and the financial advisory no longer sees any potential in upgrading them any further.
Having sold more than 4.4 lakh units, the two cars had become widely popular because of the economical package that their diesel variants provided. Over sixty per cent of the Etios Liva hatchbacks sold nationwide have been diesel and figure goes to seventy percent for the sedan. The two had proved serious contenders in the hatchback and entry level sedan markets, and have seen quite a fair run in the last ten years.
Although it wouldn’t cost the company as much to upgrade the Etios’ petrol motor to the BSVI standard, the fact the cars’ safety equipment and design have become outdated, does not help their case. The Etios siblings are not equipped for the upcoming pedestrian protection norms for the year 2020.
Both the models are based on Toyota’s EFC platform and had been built in accordance with the crash test norms valid even today. However, the recent addition of the pedestrian safety norms demanded further upgrades to the vehicle safety features and functions. Due to the waning sales numbers, the company decided that any further investment into the development of these cars would not prove to be profitable. Senior management also concluded that since the cars were already past their eight-year life cycles, any major structural upgrades would cost the company more than their potential yield.
It has been nine years since the launch of the Etios sedan, which was followed by the Liva hatchback and the Etios cross respectively. Regular updates kept the Etios line-up going through the years, but with cheaper and better looking options becoming available in the market, their numbers began to decline. Built tough and recognised for their crash test figures and safety features, the company reputation helped these cars pull along for quite the mile despite their age. Design and styling were the first aspects, for these cars to be left behind in, by competition. These were followed closely by their features and performance figures. The cars were also relatively more expensive when compared with their competition and once dethroned, could never really manage to get back into the game. Their personal purchase numbers fell and they eventually became limited to commercial use by individual buyers, and taxi aggregation businesses.
In addition, Toyota’s promotional tie-up with Maruti Suzuki has already yielded encouraging results for the company, with the rebadged Glanza selling more than fourteen thousand units in just five months. Toyota will also be putting the Vitara Brezza compact SUV, C-segment sedan Ciaz, and the Ertiga MPV through the same process, as part of its business understanding with Maruti Suzuki. This has been planned to fill the volume-gaps left by the discontinuation of the Etios range and help Toyota regain its market momentum. Once the Etios line up is taken off-shelf, Glanza will officially be Toyota’s smallest offering in the Indian market.
Also facing a number of upgrades to meet the BSVI compliance requirements, are the Toyota Fortuner and Innova crsyta flagship models. This will prove to be a dent in Toyota’s pocket but a necessary one, since discontinuation of either of the two could prove to be a fatal mistake for the brand image in the Indian market. The BSVI changes are expected to bring an estimated increment of 3-5 lakhs per unit price of both cars. They are likely to get newly designed filter units and exhaust systems to better facilitate pollution reduction. The petrol models would be subjected to much smaller increments in their unit price, owing to the ease of their conversion to BSVI.
Senior officials were found quoting that attempts will be made to educate the customers on various reasons for cost increment of Toyota vehicles, and the respite being prepared to help deal with this change. They said that for bulk consumers like cab companies and commercial licensees, it would be better to buy BSIV units and have yearly PUC tests, than to spend so much on BSVI compliant variants.