It looks like Toyota may be playing a little bit of catch up compared to some of its competition – according to Reuters, the Japanese automaker announced a plan to develop eight new models for emerging markets.
Toyota is aiming to design and build the new compact cars locally in markets such as Brazil, China, and India. While the automaker declined to detail exactly what the models would be, it did state that it's hoping to sell half of all of its vehicles in emerging markets by 2015, up five percent from last year. The eight new cars that will be introduced – including the recently revealed Etios sedan for India – will all be priced around 1 million yen (about $12,500); Toyota hopes to sell more than a million of these models by the 2015 goal. One of Toyota's cheapest cars presently available is the Etios: with a price tag of roughly $9000 in India, it’s well below the $14,875 Yaris that is the cheapest car sold under the Toyota badge in the States.
Toyota is not alone in its quest for sales in these rapidly growing markets. "In emerging markets, there are four or five automakers vying to take the lead in sales volumes," Toyota executive vice president Yukitoshi Funo told Reuters. "Particularly in the Southeast Asian region, Volkswagen and others are looking to challenge our lead, so we can't be resting on our laurels."
Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Honda have already seemingly beat Toyota to the punch. Mitsubishi unveiled the Mirage compact hatchback last winter at the Tokyo show, which is designed specifically for buyers in emerging markets. Earlier this year, Nissan announced that it was reviving the Datsun brand to create a new range of efficient cars targeted at places like Brazil, China, and India. Honda also launched the compact, low-cost Brio hatchback for these same markets in late 2010.
Chevrolet and Ford are also making bets on these same markets – Chevrolet will show the Trax compact crossover at the Paris show this fall, and will market that vehicle heavily to emerging markets. Ford is looking to launch a wide range of similar crossovers, headlined by the new EcoSport, to help boost its fortunes in China. In the past, brands like Volkswagen have found success with cars like the Gol in Brazil and the Santana in China, and Maruti Suzuki with the Alto in India.