Toyota hopeful of good times returning with Covid on the wane

by Mayank Dhingra 29 May 2021

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) is betting big on the Innova Crysta and Fortuner to keep the momentum going once the lockdown is lifted and normal business resumes. It is also working towards reducing the order-to-lead times on these two models. 

“While sentiment at the higher end may remain muted, we anticipate good demand in the sub-Rs 12 lakh space which saw 30 percent growth last year,” Naveen Soni, Senior Vice-President (Sales and Service) told Autocar Professional.  

It is here that TKM will be hoping to see a brisk off take of its Glanza and Urban Cruiser which have been sourced from the stable of global ally, Suzuki in India (via Maruti) and reengineered with the Toyota badge.

Soni is also hopeful that the industry will not need to wait till the festive season to see better days again. “The second wave is on the wane and people’s sense of using personal vehicles over public transport is still quite high,” he said. 

To Soni, the biggest takeaway from the current Covid wave is its effect on market sentiment even in “non-severely impacted” regions like the northeast. In fact, it is so “huge” that new orders are down by 50 percent in places without stringent lockdowns.

“While in 2020 Covid was more about numbers, it is more about names this year and that definitely affects customer psyche,” he said. Consequently, one “cannot do business transactions when the mind is occupied somewhere else”.

With showrooms shut in key cities and automakers gradually resuming production at their factories, there are big supply chain concerns going forward. “The most critical challenge is of vendors based in different locations — they need to be functioning to ensure smooth operations at TKM,” he said.

Globally renowned for its just-in-time (JIT) and lean-inventory production methodologies, the company is now going in for a higher level of component supplies. This is a buffer against any shutdowns at the vendors’ end. “While this may not be in the true spirit of JIT, it is necessary to tide over the current situation,” said Soni. 

TKM is, however, unlikely to face any major hurdles on manpower availability as there has been no alarming exodus of migrant workforce as was seen last year. “Our dependence on contractual workers is not very high and most of our people are from Karnataka. They are an integral part of TKM,” he said. 

While facilitating vaccinations of its entire workforce, the company is helping out its dealer partners with Covid-relief packages. Additionally, it is adopting a regional approach keeping in mind the localised nature of the lockdowns. “We are giving regional autonomy to our frontline field teams so that they can be more efficient in responding to the needs of our dealer partners,” said Soni.

Tags: Toyota, TKM

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