The Toyota Glanza hatchback, the re-badged Baleno which Maruti Suzuki India manufactures at its Gujarat plant for Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), has driven past the 25,000-unit mark in the domestic market. Since its launch on June 8, 2019, the Glanza has sold a total of 25,242 units till end-June 2020.
Despite being a totally badge-engineered version of the Baleno with no differentiation at all (except for the badges), the fact that the Glanza has drawn over 25,000 customers in its first year of sales gives Toyota a successful entry into what was essentially a new market segment for the company.
Brand Toyota makes a difference
Interestingly, as Autocar India, sister magazine to Autocar Professional, learnt, brand Toyota is a deciding factor in helping consumers put their money down on the Glanza. Naveen Soni, senior vice-president, sales and service, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, offers better insight into what has helped the brand draw in buyers.
According to Soni, while Toyota has a loyal customer base that remains dedicated to the brand's portfolio, a majority of the Glanza buyers are new to the Toyota family. Over the course of the past year, new customers have contributed to as much as 40-60 percent of the premium hatchback's sales. And a key differentiator for attracting a fresh set of prospects has been Toyota's customer experience.
"The idea is that we have a product offering from a Toyota dealership, which is unique and differentiated from what others can offer. So when I sell a car from a Toyota dealership, it comes as a package. Sales is just one part of the package," said Soni. Toyota's ease of service, roadside assistance and warranty are other factors which, according to the sales chief, have helped enhance the value proposition and close the deal. The Glanza comes with a 3-year/1,00,000 kilometre warranty compared to the Baleno's 2-year/40,000 kilometre standard offer.
Taking things further, special sales schemes are another novelty that Toyota adds to the equation. The company's buyback program, for instance, assures owners a 55 percent value for the Glanza after a three-year period, thus helping minimise resale concerns.
"There is a natural tendency that no amount of advertisement can sway the customers’ mind as much as word of mouth can," he added. The sense of a positive experience from existing Glanza owners is further believed to have catalysed sales.
Higher demand for lower variants
The company reports a spurt in Glanza sales in the post- lockdown era, with the share of the hatchback in Toyota's total sales on the rise. With the looming threat of Covid-19, the need to commute in a safer environment has gained prominence. And the fact that priced at Rs 701,000-896,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Glanza forms the entry point to the Toyota range has certainly worked in its favour.
Moreover, economic uncertainty playing on the minds of consumers has seen a significantly higher demand for the Glanza's base trim. "Most of the customers who are walking into the Toyota dealerships now and looking for a Glanza are asking one simple question – which is the lowest price variant that you have in the Glanza?" commented Soni.
Toyota's hatchback is offered in two variants – G and V – which are equivalent to the top-level Zeta and Alpha trims of the Baleno. Consequently, even the entry-level G trim is sufficiently equipped, with kit like a touchscreen infotainment and auto climate control, which helps make it a popular choice.
Every fourth Glanza sold is a hybrid
Being synonymous with hybrid technology, Toyota not only made a conscious effort of bringing in an electrified variant of the Glanza, but also positioned it prudently. At the time of launch, the Glanza G hybrid undercut the equivalent Zeta version of the Baleno by a significant Rs 65,000, though the price difference since then has reduced to Rs 42,000.
At 23.87kpl, the 90hp, 1.2-litre petrol-hybrid also posts an advantage of 2.86kpl over the non-electrified, 83hp engine. A keen pricing and higher mileage claim have presented a strong enough business case for 21-24 percent of Glanza customers to choose the hybrid option.
Spurred by the success of the Glanza, Toyota is now gearing up to launch the second product under its collaboration with Suzuki. Slated to be dubbed the Urban Cruiser, the rebadged version of the Maruti Vitara Brezza will sport greater product differentiation through some mild styling tweaks. The Toyota Urban Cruiser is expected to be launched in late July or August, depending on how soon the coronavirus pandemic can be controlled, at an estimated price ranging from around Rs 750,000 to Rs 11.5 lakh. Toyota though will lure customers by loading its top-of-the-line variants with more features and provide a longer, 3-year or more standard warranty pack.
Also read: 2019 Toyota Glanza review, test drive