The Toyota Yaris mid-size sedan was launched in India back in 2018, and has been primarily meant for the private segment. The Yaris couldn’t not make a mark in the fleet market due to the lack of a commercial variant that comes with a speed-limiting function.
However, this is soon to change as Toyota India is stressing on boosting its sales for the Yaris that’s basically its only mass-market sedan now. The Japanese carmaker is thus preparing to offer a new fleet variant of the Yaris in India.
The senior vice president, sales and customer service, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Naveen Soni, revealed the company’s plans for the Yaris recently. He said, “There are different segments that open up as the market opens up. So, from that point of view, how do we get more segment-associated features added or deleted? Maybe make it more attractive for the taxi customer; because while the Etios is not there, we have the Yaris to offer for that customer. Very soon, we should be looking at the possibility of a specced-down Yaris.”
The low-spec Yaris is also going to be the replacement of the discontinued Etios sedan, which was available in a fleet version. The Toyota Yaris is currently available in 7 variants for the private customers. The Yaris entry-level J (Optional) variant offers features including projector headlamps, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a cooled glovebox, all power windows, power-adjustable wing mirrors, split rear seats, 3 airbags, remote locking and a rear armrest. Toyota is planning to slash down the features list to offer a taxi-spec base model of the Yaris.
The Toyota Yaris gets a 1.5-litre petrol engine that offers 107PS of power. Toyota India is expected to offer the new base trim paired only with a manual transmission to check the pricing. This variant might also be available in a CNG version for the fleet operators.
Apart from the new fleet variant, the company is betting big on the Yaris to ramp up its sales. Mr. Soni added by saying “We have been consciously looking at how to make sure that the Yaris comes in the consideration set (of potential buyers). The most important thing that we realised is that when the BS6 transition happens, if diesel is not available, which probably most of the competition may not be able to offer because of the BS6 transition, then 40% of the segment becomes available for somebody to look into.”
The automaker is planning to take advantage of this market potential by introducing several attractive finance schemes. The Toyota Yaris also received an update in 2019 to boost sales. Toyota believes that its schemes are receiving a warm market response. The Yaris recorded sales of 1,267 units in the first two months of this current year, resulting in a great 83% YoY growth.
While the BS6 emission norms have ensured that Toyota is at a more advantageous position now, as it comparatively eased out the Yaris’ previous disadvantage of lacking diesel version. Among the Toyota Yaris competitors, only the upcoming Honda City and the Hyundai Verna will come with a diesel counterpart, while the rest – the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Skoda Rapid and Volkswagen Vento have already discontinued their diesel versions.
It will be interesting to see if the Toyota Yaris’ fleet focused base model works out in its favour or not. Meanwhile, Toyota has to be on guard not to form a taxi image for the Yaris, as this could put off the private buyers.