Toyota Kirloskar pulls plug on Yaris sedan after three years as sales dip

TKM was selling less than 900 units of the model forcing the company to discontinue the production.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) will stop making the Yaris with effect from Monday (September 27), amid falling sales and shifting buyer preferences from sedans to sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The local arm of the Japanese carmaker launched the premium mid-size sedan three years ago to take on the likes of the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, among others.  

The phase-out of the Yaris is also part of a larger global strategy which has seen Toyota Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation sharing products for India and the neighbouring markets.

Much like the Glanza and the Urban Cruiser – which are the rebadged versions of the Suzuki Baleno and the Brezza - Toyota will get the new-generation Suzuki Ciaz, expected to be launched during the festival season this year.

The phasing-out of the sedan, said TKM, is part of the company's product strategy "to continue to cater to the ever-evolving needs of the customer through enhanced technologies and product offerings". Preparations are underway to launch new Toyota models in 2022, the company said in a statement.

Both the Ciaz and Yaris addressed the same segment. It, therefore, made little or no sense to continue selling a low-selling under-performing model.

The Yaris broke cover at the Auto Expo in 2018 and was aimed at reeling in newer buyers who couldn't afford a Toyota model, into its fold. But it failed to have the desired effect. Compared to rivals Honda and Hyundai that sold 1,200 to 1,300 units of the City and the Verna, Toyota sold less than 600 units of the Yaris per month.

It didn't help that the buyer preference has been of late shifting rapidly to compact and mid-size SUVs. The segment accounts for a third of total passenger vehicle (PV) sales in the country.  

The Yaris lacked crucial aspects, such as rear leg space. Whatever little chance it had was marred by the Urban Cruiser and the Glanza, said Avik Chattopadhyay, co-founder, Expereal, a brand consulting firm.

 

“The Yaris was pitched as a more affordable Toyota. But that pitch got diluted with the launch of the Suzuki rebadged models, which were roomier, better, and less expensive,'' said Chattopadhyay.  

Moreover, Toyota and Suzuki had tasted success with the Glanza and the Urban Cruiser and rebadging a third product reinforced the strategy, said Puneet Gupta, director, I.H.S Markit, a sales forecast and market research firm.

 

For Toyota, which was struggling to clock higher volumes in India's competitive PV market, cross-badging worked really well, he said.

The latest move by Toyota is also prompted by the rapidly changing priorities of global automakers, said Gupta.

 

“They (automakers) would rather conserve their resources for new technologies like electric or hybrid. No one is keen on investing in internal combustion engine-only markets anymore,” he added.

Toyota will continue to seamlessly cater to all Yaris customer needs through its dealer service outlets across the country, along with the promise of availability of genuine spare parts for a minimum of 10 years on this discontinued model.

 

 


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