Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) introduced its first compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) Urban Cruiser at a price range of ₹8.4-₹11.3 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The model promises a fuel efficiency of 17.03 kmpl for manual transmission and 18.76 kmpl for automatic transmission and will compete with the likes of Kia’s Sonet, Hyundai’s Venue, Ford’s Ecosport and Mahindra and Mahindra’s XUV 300, besides the Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza — on whose platform it is based. “Our entry into compact SUVs has come at a time when the segment has gained much popularity due to its body type and superior road presence thereby garnering greater connect and appeal among today’s youth,” said Masakazu Yoshimura, MD, TKM.Naveen Soni, Senior Vice President, Sales and Service at TKM added that the company is anticipating increased demand for SUVs in the coming months and the Urban Cruiser will play an important role in catering to this demand particularly from first-time Toyota buyers who are brand conscious and want to experience an international brand.Mr. Soni said that there are two enabling factors at play currently —one is the compact SUV segment is growing and the other is increased preference for personal mobility due to the pandemic.“The segment that we are getting into is drawing a lot of attention from the consumers because of the general shift towards SUVs which has been visible for the past few years…over the last few years the share of this segment in passenger cars has grown from a very meager 2-3% to about 11%, and it’s not stopping,” he said.He further added that the current COVID-19 pandemic is driving people to get into personal mobility. “Over the last few months, it’s the low end of the market…below sub-₹10 lakh where consolidation has happened to about more than 30% of pre COVID times… So this means that more and more customers are inclined to buy a car for personal mobility would get into the low end of the market.”Replying to a question on when he expects TKM’s monthly sales to turn positive, Mr Soni said may onwards, the company is seeing a month-on-month increase in demand “and this is a very good sign…whether it is the lower end of the market that we serve with products such as Glanza and now the Urban Cruiser or whether we have the high end of the market which is you Innova and Fortuner… I think the demand is coming back.”The company is also working on expanding its reach to 290 cities and 442 outlets by end of 2020, as compared to 242 cities and 384 outlets at present.
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