A graduate from MIT, Kirloskar played an instrumental role in bringing Toyota to India. He was a fourth generation member of the Kirloskar Group and had been vice chairman at Toyota Kirloskar, headquartered in Bengaluru, since 1998.
It came as shocking news for the industry and the country alike. Vikram Shreekant Kirloskar, who led Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) as the automaker’s head for over two decades, died of cardiac arrest on November 29. He was 64.
Vikram Kirloskar was involved in the operations of multiple Kirloskar Group companies in India and he played an instrumental role in bringing Toyota to India. He was a fourth generation member of the Kirloskar Group and had been vice chairman at Toyota Kirloskar, headquartered in Bengaluru, since 1998. He did his schooling at Lawrence School, Lovedale in Ooty and was a graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He spearheaded a joint venture partnership with the Toyota group in 1997 and started a major automobile manufacturing industry in India. After the Suzuki merger with Maruti Udyog in 1982, it took another 18 years for a Japanese brand like Toyota to begin local production in the country. The first product to be launched under the Toyota brand in India was the highly successful Qualis MPV in 2000.
Kirloskar was last seen at the all-new Toyota Innova HyCross SUV unveil event in Mumbai on November 25, 2022, where he spoke at length with Autocar Professional about the current demand environment. “I have a lot of confidence in the way infrastructure spending is happening, the domestic market is growing, and all industries are doing well. Hopefully, it will continue,” he had said.
“We are extremely saddened to inform you about the untimely demise of Mr Vikram S Kirloskar, Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor on November 29, 2022. At this time, we request everyone to pray that his soul rests in peace. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” the company statement said.
Kirloskar also headed Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as its President during 2019-20 and was currently the Chairman of CII Manufacturing Council, CII Trade Fair’s council and Chairman Hydrogen Task force. He was also on the Board of Trustees of the Rhode Island School of Design.
Shocked industry and political leaders have chimed in with their condolences for Kirloskar.
Among the first to share their Tweets was Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the executive chairperson of Bengaluru-headquartered biopharmaceuticals company Biocon, said, “Devastated by Vikram’s shocking demise. He was such a dear friend who I will hugely miss.”
“Vikram Kirloskar’s demise is a big loss for the Indian auto sector. He always championed the issues of the auto industry and had such a pleasing smile and personality,” Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex industry body of auto industry tweeted. Kirloskar had also headed SIAM as president in FY 2013-2014.
Banker Uday Kotak recalled their days at the CII leadership and called Kirloskar as someone with a clear mind and a great heart. “Very sad to lose my friend Vikram Kirloskar. He had world class vision to bring the best to India. We also worked together at CII leadership,” Kotak wrote on Twitter.
“Deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Shri Vikram Kirloskar, Vice-Chairperson, Toyota Kirloskar Motor. A doyen of the automotive industry, he pioneered its transformation with his leadership. In this hour of grief, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family & friends,” Union Minister Piyush Goyal wrote.
Mallikarjun Kharge, President Indian National Congress and MP of Rajya Sabha also expressed grief and called him one of pioneers of India's automotive industry. “Extremely saddened by the passing of the Vice Chairperson of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Shri Vikram Kirloskar. One of the pioneers of India's automotive industry and a man of vision, he contributed to nation building,” Kharge tweeted.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai, described Kirloskar as one of the stalwarts of India's automotive industry. “Heartfelt condolences on the sad and untimely demise of one of the stalwarts of India's automotive industry, Vice Chairperson of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Shri Vikram Kirloskar. May his soul rest in peace. May God grant the family and friends the strength to bear this loss,” Bommai said via his official Twitter handle.
Vikram Kirloskar is survived by his wife Geetanjali Kirloskar and daughter Manasi Kirloskar.
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