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10 years after its launch, Toyota halts production of the Etios and the Etios Liva; pulls the plug on the Corolla Altis as well
The Toyota Etios was one of the most under rated sedans India. The Japanese car maker invested approximately Rs 3200 crore in the Etios project and launched the sedan in 2010. Following multiple makeovers and mid-life upgrades over the course of a decade, Toyota has finally pulled the plug on the Etios, having elected to not upgrade it to BS6 emission standards.
The Toyota Etios was their first attempt to grab a sizeable share of volumes in India. It was launched in 2010 at Rs 4.96 lakh and sold a respectable 1 lakh units in the first two years. Initially, it came with a frugal 1.5-litre petrol engine churning 90hp and 132Nm of torque, and the 1.4-litre D4D diesel, producing 68hp and 170Nm was introduced at a later stage.
After a decent initial response to the Etios, Toyota also launched the Etios Liva hatchback in the following year, rivaling the likes of Maruti Suzuki Swift and Ford Figo amongst others. However, in terms of design, both the Etios and the Etios Liva were a missed opportunity. The Etios looked similar to the Mahindra Logan; the bland styling drawing a lukewarm response from critics and neither the Etios nor the Liva could match the desirability of its rivals. The cabin layout too with its central speedometer wasn't appealing, and the perceived sense of quality was nowhere near what we had come to expect from Toyota.
Toyota also missed a big trick by not re-configuring the Etios for the sub 4 meter compact-sedan era. Where other manufacturers trimmed their boot and took advantage of the lower excise duties to drop prices and boost volumes, Toyota persisted with the 4.2 meter long Etios. Despite that Etios found massive popularity among the taxi segment with its excellent quality and reliability that ensured the car kept running.
Toyota had spun off a third car on the Etios platform, the Etios Cross in May 2014. It was essentially an Etios Liva with rugged looks. It sported body cladding, skid plates, roof rails, redesigned grille and revised interiors as well. There were also a few updates, limited edition models and exclusive variants of the Etios and the Etios Liva that came along, but there was no significant rise in the sales numbers.
Another factor that went against the Etios was its 840kg kerb weight. It was the lightest car in its class when launched and was ahead of the curve as far as light-weighting goes. Now cars like the Baleno, Kwid, Grand i10, all have dropped their weight compared to their predecessors, but the Etios was the first to adopt this trend and Indian buyers were not prepared for it. Customers equated the light weight to poor crash safety, something that was proved wrong when it scored a 4-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests making it the first made-in-India car to do so. Despite scoring well at the Global NCAP, the general opinion towards lightweight cars was negative, perceiving them as unsafe.
The Etios and the Yaris were made on a dedicated assembly line at the Toyota Kiroskar Motor (TKM) plant in Bidadi. While the Yaris is still very much in production, the idle capacity created by the Etios will now be used by Maruti Suzuki for future models forming a part of this alliance. Speaking of the alliance, the Glanza, essentially a re-badged Baleno, will now be the entry level offering in Toyota’s line-up. With over 15000 units of Glanza sold since its launch in June 2019, the premium hatchback is already ahead of the Innova Crysta to become the Toyota’s highest selling car. Toyota officials also told us that their focus will now be on getting Etios customers to upgrade to the Yaris.
We cannot end without mentioning Etios’s contribution to Indian motorsport. Etios Motor Racing, that started in 2012, was Toyota’s one-make racing series for India and it received an overwhelming response in its initial round, with 3300 applicants. The cars were prepared by Bangalore based Red Rooster Performance and designed by TRD, (Toyota Racing Development). After three seasons, Toyota pulled the curtains on the one-make series.
Along with the Etios range, the production for Corolla Altis too has been stopped and Toyota’s focus, like every other manufacturer, will now be on SUVs in the future. They have already launched the Raize compact SUV in Japan and have also teased an image of another SUV that will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. And lastly, Toyota will keep busy by launching the cars that are a part of their alliance with Maruti Suzuki, including the rebadged versions of the Vitara Brezza, Ertiga and the Ciaz.