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Q&A: Hiroshi Nakagawa, Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

'Toyota is watching if our car succeeds in India or not'

Swaraj Baggonkar  |  Mumbai 

Hiroshi Nakagawa

Toyota Kirloskar Motor will, over the next 45 days, open around 30 dealerships for a smooth roll out of its much publicised compact car, the Etios, as well as the Etios sedan, to be launched in the presence of Akio Toyoda, president and CEO, Toyota Motor Corporation. Managing Director Hiroshi Nakagawa, spoke to Swaraj Baggonkar on TKM’s plans. Edited excerpts:

The Etios is expected to be priced very competitively, without compromising on quality. On which areas were you able to cut costs?
Quality is our top priority and, at the same time, the Indian customer is very keen on cost and price. We have taken a lot of initiatives with (component) suppliers for a technical breakthrough, like how to reduce the weight of iron while maintaining its strength.

Was there any difference between the development process of the Etios vis-a-vis what Toyota practises overseas?
The processes were not much different. A car is a complicated and difficult product. There are many processes there but we cannot compromise just because costs are lower here. Our engineers had to innovate for achieving breakthroughs.

How important is the success of the Etios for Toyota in India?

Toyota is watching the Indian subsidiary (to see) if the Etios succeeds or not. Because, most main markets such as Japan, the US and Europe are saturated. Some are even declining. The growing market is very limited. China is very rapidly increasing but in future there is a question mark on it, but India is the kind of star and focus market.

Are you working with your suppliers to trim costs further?
From the very start we have fully involved the component makers on a one-to-one basis and faults have been resolved through constant communication. We have worked together on every aspect. We presently have 100 suppliers and are looking to expand that number.

After the Etios, will the Indian suppliers be assigned on some of your global projects?
It is possible to involve them. However, on an average, Indian auto component manufacturers do not meet the standards required for international projects. Some suppliers have already reached the standards set globally, while some haven't.

Can the development model of the Etios be replicated elsewhere by Toyota?
A project is presently undergoing development in Brazil. So, we communicate to various markets that the Etios is the world's first and not just India's first, and that our development experience and techniques can be extended to overseas markets. Currently, the Brazilian subsidiary of Toyota is also working on the Etios and will launch the car in two years.

How many engineers were working on the Etios and how much time was required?
There were about 2,000 engineers who have worked on the Etios model, of Indian and Japanese origin. This project had started in 2006.

When are you launching the Etios sedan?
The Etios and Etios sedan will be launched on the same date, December 1. But the sedan will hit the market first, followed by the Etios from January onwards. Delivery will start from January.

What are the combined volumes you are looking for?
We are looking at producing and selling 70,000 units of both in 2011.

What are the sales volumes of the Prius (hybrid)?
We had not launched the Prius with the intention of volumes, but to promote the idea of Toyota's advanced technology. We have sold close to 100 units of the Prius since its launch in March. We get the Prius from Japan against confirmed orders.

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First Published: Mon, November 15 2010. 01:15 IST