Toyota Etios Revision Unveils New Key Market

Jan 09, 2017 06:00 AM EST | Joanne Z.

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Toyota Motor Corp. is still catching up in key emerging markets such as Latin America. The Toyota Etios econocar shows how it continues to do so.

Toyota spent years of developing the ultra-budget Toyota Etios as a prolonged appeal to Africa, India, and Latin America. However, the car landed with a "thud" in Latin America in late 2012. Toyota's Latin America and Caribbean operations CEO, Steve St. Angelo, arrived the following year in Brazil and worked on reversing the subcompact's substandard sales, said . He surveyed customers, dealers, and journalists, and discovered that the Etios was deemed too cheap for local discriminating tastes. Brazilians had the notion of it being a car designed for India.

St. Angelo's team identified 14 areas needing upgrade. The fixes were made one by one until the final one arrived last year. One of the complaints was that the wheels looked too small for the car but they discovered that, to save money, the wheel-well interior was coated in light color - which highlighted the tire gap making the tires look small. His fix was to paint the wheel wells black. He said that whoever decided to bring the Toyota Etios in Brazil with the notion that the country needed a basic transportation car and the rest was not so important was wrong.

According to , in Brazil, the area's largest market, Toyota was the no. 7 participant in 2015. It was positioned behind Renault, Fiat, and Hyundai. However, market share expanded to seven percent in 2015, from three percent in 2012, while sales grew to 145,957, from 86,773, even as the overall market decreased. Toyota's move in successfully tapping Latin America should serve as a blueprint for its progression into other markets, such as Africa, India, or China, where its market share is far out of step with its dominating existence in other regions such as North America.

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