Toyota Will Introduce Hybrid Small Car in India

In developing car markets like China and India, the short-term strategy for carmakers seems to be “small, cheap and fuel-efficient.” Fully electric powertrains are expected to catch on eventually, but where the intermediary step for the United States is expected be hybrids—and turbocharged diesels in Europe—small, 4-cylinder engines that deliver high MPGs at a low cost are the name of the game in most of Asia.

It’s for this reason that the Toyota Prius, which in America and Japan has been one of the most influential vehicles on the market for the better part of a decade, only came to India last year. When it did, it was priced and marketed more as a high-priced luxury car than an everyday vehicle for the country’s emerging middle class.

But while the Prius was never expected to be major seller in India—just 80 vehicles sold in three months—a dedicated hybrid version of the Etios small car marketed specifically for that market, is apparently on the horizon. While production numbers are yet to be announced, the fact that Toyota is premiering a new hybrid in India suggests that the carmaker is confident in its sales potential. Toyota is yet to announce whether the car will be available in other markets.

The price tag is another big question mark. If Toyota has managed to bring costs down to the point that the fuel savings associated with the vehicle actually surpass its “hybrid premium,” the Etios could be an important player. If not, the car will more likely be just another green also-ran. The gasoline version of the Etios is expected to sell 65,000 units next year.


  • Reason

    WHAT? What do you mean, “If Toyota has managed to bring costs down to the point that the fuel savings associated with the vehicle actually surpass its “hybrid premium”? It is absolutely ridiculous to look at the 5 year cost of owning a car when assessing this. Look at the lifetime of the car! Compare a prius that gets 50mpg to a corolla that gets 33mpg over 150,000 miles. The prius uses 3,000 gallons and the corolla 4500 gallons, difference of 1500 gallons. 1500x$3/gallon is $4500. And this is underestimating it because most Toyotas last well over 150,000 miles. EVERY HYBRID MORE THAN COVERS THE COST OF THE EXTRA MONEY MADE TO PRODUCE IT, AND THE WINNER IS THE ENVIRONMENT! We all need to own our cars longer. It would be good for our pocketbooks and the economy and the environment. The fixation on driving bigger and newer is about being “cool” and the average american adult’s inability to leave behind an adolescent fixation on being “cool.” It is a huge cultural problem that needs to be fixed, and comes from low self esteem of the average american adult.

  • zach

    That “hybrid premium” reference was specifically about the difference between some of the small, high-mileage ICEs that are available today in places like India and China, and the mostly low-production, imported, expensive hybrids that have been generally marketed toward the wealthy in those countries.

    If memory serves me, the most popular car in India right now is the Suzuki (sold as Maruti) Alto. It sells for less than $5,000. The per-capita income in that country is less than $3,000.

    Just how big is the “hybrid premium?” It differs for every vehicle and hopefully it will soon be a thing of the past. However, asking even upper-middle class consumers in India to pay $5,000 extra for a hybrid is just not realistic. In the United States it’s a very different story, but the economic benefits of driving a hybrid still vary a lot from model to model.

    As for “the adolescent fixation with being cool,” I think you may underestimate just how much that plays into the equation for a lot of hybrid drivers as well—they and their friends just have a different standard for cool than people who drive Escalades. In the long run, I think decreasing the amount of oil that we use will come more from society accepting fuel efficient cars as the “new cool” than from altering deep-seeded sociological values. (Not that we have time to sit around and wait until that happens on its own, but I don’t think that cool is going away anytime soon.)

  • sri

    I was in India Last May. The prius sells for around $60K there. With that kind of prices there is no sense in even discussing what the premium is. Most mid-range cars in India cost anywhere from 7000 to 20000. Many of these are capable of 30-40MPG. For anybody wanting to save on fuel there are plenty of diesel options, which is a double whammy, because diesel prices are controlled to be cheaper. So I don’t see anyone considering prius as a value purchase in India.

    Another factor that may work against Prius in India is how many of the Indian cars pack good amount of space in a small body. In US Pirus is one of the very few cars that do that. The suzuki swift Dzire I rode in India during my trip could pack 4 6-footers comfortably (Shoulder space may be a bit tight by US standards though), has 16 Cubic Feet of trunk space, has a regular sedan type body and still almost a foot shorter than my Gen II prius. I think the main reason small cars are unpopular in US is the manufacturers have been avoiding making them good.

  • usbseawolf2000

    I think the price of the Prius doubled in India due to the 100% import tax. If Etios hybrid is build there, the price increase would not be much.

  • David Hussey

    Wow.. that’s great news for Indian Hybrid car lovers. Hybrid car is the futuristic cars in the road. That’s really good news that small hybrid car entering in Indian automotive market. Indian automotive market is the biggest upcoming automotive market in the world.

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  • d c sutar

    i have one resarch maruti 800car new engine fiting @ one leter petrol @ 130kmpl its realite plese totota rnd head contet mo no 09923355599

  • prakash.s

    what type of engine model used