Toyota to debut Lexus next year

Toyota to debut Lexus next year

Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota Motor is finally firming up plans to launch its luxury Lexus sub-brand in India sometime next year, with three exclusive showrooms in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore, dealer sources familiar with the development said.

The company has been toying with the plan to bring in the Lexus sedan and luxury SUVs since 2011, partly because it was waiting for the high-end luxury market to mature, sources said. "It is not clear if the SUVs will be launched, as Toyota plans to bring in the sedans initially, before deciding on the optimal product mix based on initial demand for the Lexus sedan," sources said.

The Lexus is sold in major markets of Toyota worldwide. The company has been looking importing the vehicles as CKD (Completely Knocked Down) units but has clearly been wary of the 160 per cent import duty imposed in India on fully-built models. "It is likely the company will assemble Lexus locally on the same platform as Corolla, Innova and Etios. And, they have used the Corolla platform for rolling out the Innova, so modification of the existing platforms for a Lexus rollout is a possibility," sources said.
A Toyota official did not return calls seeking comment.

The Lexus is likely to priced in the range of Rs 28-30 lakh at the lower end, competing against the Audi A4, BMW's 3 Series and the Mercedes C Class. "It's not known why they waited for so long. But Toyota has been generally cautious when it comes to new vehicle launches. Once they test the waters, they commit to their investments in the market," an auto industry watcher added.

Toyota Kirloskar is currently assembling Camry's hybrid version on a separate assembly line in Toyota Kirloskar Motor's second facility in Bidadi.

With the exception of the small car segment, growth in the mid-segment A+, B, and B+ has been largely subdued, the high-end luxury market has posted double-digit sales growth from 2010 to 2014.

The market has been largely dominated by German automobile giants BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, with the likes of Skoda, Volvo and Volkswagen struggling to gain a foothold.

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