Toyota to axe Etios, Etios Liva by April 2020

by Autocar India 19 Nov 2019

Toyota is all set to pull the plug on its budget car line-up – the Etios sedan, Etios Liva hatchback and Etios Cross – in the run-up to the implementation of BS VI emission norms.

Sources inform Autocar India that Toyota will finally draw the curtains on the Etios line-up, nearly a decade after the debut of the Etios sedan and hatchback at the 2010 Auto Expo. The high level of investment needed to upgrade the Etios family to meet upcoming emissions and safety regulations means there is no business case for them.

Since 2010, Toyota has cumulatively sold over 444,000 units of the Etios family. Sales of the Etios and Etios Liva are skewed heavily in favour of the diesel models – over 63 percent of all Liva hatchbacks (and over 70 percent of all Etios sedans) sold till date are diesels. Upgrading the ageing 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine for the Etios range would be an expensive affair, and doing so would price the Etios range out of the market.

While upgrading the Etios’ petrol engine to meet the more stringent BS VI norms wouldn’t cost much, it would only prolong the Etios’ life by a few months. As it stands, the Etios models don’t meet the pedestrian protection norms that’ll become mandatory for all cars sold in India from October 2020 onwards.

Introduced almost a decade ago, the Etios models are based on the EFC platform. While they were engineered to meet present-day crash test norms, the introduction of the pedestrian protection norms was unforeseen and the Etios models weren’t designed to meet those. In an earlier conversation with Autocar India, Yoshinori Noritake, chief engineer of the Etios project, had indicated that cars on the EFC platform had an eight-year lifecycle, and both the Etios sedan and Liva hatchback are well past that mark. Updating the Etios range to meet the pedestrian protection norms would entail extensive (and costly) sheet metal changes, and low volumes wouldn’t justify that sort of investment.

The first of the Etios family, the Etios sedan, was launched in India back in December 2010, followed by the Etios Liva hatchback in June 2011 and Etios Cross in May 2014. Over the years, Toyota rolled out small updates to keep the Etios line-up fresh, but in the face of growing competition from newer, fresher models, the Etios – which had a basic, pared-back feel to it – could never really establish itself in the market. 

For what it had to offer, the Etios was an expensive – if also practical – proposition, and while the sedan found favour with commercial-use buyers and cab aggregators, the Etios Liva hatchback was well and truly left behind, compared to new-age premium hatchbacks. That said, it is worth mentioning that the Etios Liva remains only the second made-in-India hatchback to secure an impressive four-star rating at the Global NCAP crash tests.

Alliance matters
Toyota’s decision to stop producing budget cars in India also has a lot to do with its alliance with Suzuki. The first of the models under its partnership with Suzuki – the Toyota Glanza – has done pretty well so far for what is nothing but a badge-engineered Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Till end-October 2019, 14,013 Glanzas have been sold since its launch in June 2019. As per the agreement, Toyota will also receive the Ertiga MPV, Vitara Brezza compact SUV and Ciaz sedan from Maruti Suzuki, which will help it fill the space and volume vacated by the discontinuation of the Etios models.

Going forward, other budget models in the Maruti Suzuki line-up could also be of interest to Toyota, but come April 2020, it is the Glanza (priced from Rs 698,000) that will become the new entry point to Toyota ownership in India.