Vellfire launched on demand of customers; 180 units were booked before prices were announced: Vikram Kirloskar
The customers have been asking me, for last 5-6 years, about when this car will be launched and was interested in buying almost 5 vehicles as soon as it will be out in the market. Several people were asking us to bring it out in the market at the earliest and no one asked about the price at which it will be available.
Vikram Kirloskar, Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, speaks about the impact that global turmoil like coronavirus will have on the sector, new launch Vellfire and Toyota's partnership with Suzuki among others during a candid chat with Swati Khandelwal, Zee Business.
Q: Tell us the kind of impact that the global turmoil, including geopolitical challenges, coronavirus and slowdown mainly in India, will have on the industry?
A: You have seen an impact in terms of travellers and empty hotels. It is just in India and I think that the Indian government has been pretty fast in blocking the airports and reported cases are only three, I believe in only Kerala so far and that to have been discharged. So officially, we have nothing in the country but whatever I understand is that the airports are screening very tight and people are aware of the situation and it is good. I think it is one positive thing but the supply chains are affected.
Q: Toyota has launched its new Vellfire, a Luxurious MPV, available at around Rs80 lakhs almost.
A: The customers have been asking me, for last 5-6 years, about when this car will be launched and was interested in buying almost 5 vehicles as soon as it will be out in the market. Several people were asking us to bring it out in the market at the earliest and no one asked about the price at which it will be available. Interestingly, 180 units of the vehicle have been booked without knowing its price. Indian tourists and businessmen, book the same vehicle during their visit especially to Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Japan. The users have used this car in the past and are well aware of its features.
Q: Update us on the global partnership between Toyota and Suzuki.
A: A: Exploratory talks are on and the first product Glanza is out in public but I will not say anything about the product. However, you will get a chance to see a lot of things in a couple of years. We are at the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency)-I at present and CAFE-II is very challenging. The work that we are doing with Suzuki is useful for both of us for CAFE-II and beyond.
Q: What is your this year's outlook for India, the industry and the auto sector because the budget has been presented and things are out in public?
A: In my opinion, we are in a very challenging mode. The issue is a lot of NPA is with banks and if we look at the public sector banks (PSBs) and NBFCs then it is a lot of money which has gone out of the system. They talk about Rs10-12 lakh crore and more coming. So just to say the government is not doing a proper budget then I think that with this kind of shortfall sitting in the whole baking system is hard. I think they are doing a damn good effort trying to get over it. And, if such huge money is out of the banking system to finance the consumption is also difficult. I think the steps taken by the government on the name of infrastructure and rural area will, hopefully, generate wealth and consumption. Interestingly, consumption without wealth creation is also difficult.
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Q: What are your expectations related to improvement? Do you think it will the next six months is going to be a challenging one or so?
A: The government's steps like Ease of Doing Business, GST and many other things are very positive. We will see long-term sustained growth. We just have to get over this hump like the bank issues, which is a big-big challenge but we are going to get over it. Rest things are good. I talked with my joint-venture partner not only Toyota but also with the smaller companies who are making components. They are saying that their day-to-day work like tax then they can finish all the taxes without meeting a person and the time required is much-much less.
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