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The recently appointed head of the domestic subsidiary of the world's largest carmaker Toyota has said its luxury car range 'Lexus' is very much on the cards for India, despite recent statements that plans have been shelved for time being.
Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) MD Naomi Ishii said, “One of my objectives is to bring Lexus to India. Its just a matter of time for us, we think there is a strong potential for growth in the luxury car segment.”
Talks of the Japanese carmaker planning to launch Lexus in India to challenge the leadership of the German trio of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW began first in 2011. However, last year the company said it had delayed its plans because of the rising duties. In March 2013, the government had raised basic duties on car imports to 100% from 75%.
India's luxury car market is expected to grow 25% to about 26,000 units in FY14. At present, the market is led by the German luxury car brands, followed by Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo. The launch of US-based Jeep and Chrysler is round the corner. Other Japanese luxury car brands like Nissan's Infinity and Honda's Acura, and American brands like Ford's Lincoln and General Motors' Cadillac are yet to open shops, but have said they are studying the market.
Separately, TKM is also doing a market study to evaluate the possible launch of its 'GT86' two-door sports car in India. The GT86, which is being showcased at the Auto Expo, is a car developed by Toyota in collaboration with Subaru in Japan that aims to make fun-to-drive sports cars accessible to a wider audience. The GT86 features a light chassis and higher fuel efficiency, and comes at a lower price (about R17 lakh in Japan) than other conventional sports cars.
“We are studying if GT86 can be launched here. The only problem is that it will be very expensive if imported from Japan as a completely-built unit. After the Expo, we will display it at various locations across the country to get people interested in the brand,” Sandeep Singh, deputy MD for sales and marketing at TKM.