Q&A: Hiroshi Nakagawa, Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

Toyota Kirloskar Motor will, over the next 45 days, open around 30 dealerships for a smooth roll out of its much publicised compact car, the Etios, as well as the Etios sedan, to be launched in the presence of Akio Toyoda, president and CEO, Toyota Motor Corporation. Managing Director Hiroshi Nakagawa, spoke to Swaraj Baggonkar on TKM’s plans. Edited excerpts:

The Etios is expected to be priced very competitively, without compromising on quality. On which areas were you able to cut costs?
Quality is our top priority and, at the same time, the Indian customer is very keen on cost and price. We have taken a lot of initiatives with (component) suppliers for a technical breakthrough, like how to reduce the weight of iron while maintaining its strength.

Was there any difference between the development process of the Etios vis-a-vis what Toyota practises overseas?
The processes were not much different. A car is a complicated and difficult product. There are many processes there but we cannot compromise just because costs are lower here. Our engineers had to innovate for achieving breakthroughs.

How important is the success of the Etios for Toyota in India?
Toyota is watching the Indian subsidiary (to see) if the Etios succeeds or not. Because, most main markets such as Japan, the US and Europe are saturated. Some are even declining. The growing market is very limited. China is very rapidly increasing but in future there is a question mark on it, but India is the kind of star and focus market.

Are you working with your suppliers to trim costs further?
From the very start we have fully involved the component makers on a one-to-one basis and faults have been resolved through constant communication. We have worked together on every aspect. We presently have 100 suppliers and are looking to expand that number.

After the Etios, will the Indian suppliers be assigned on some of your global projects?
It is possible to involve them. However, on an average, Indian auto component manufacturers do not meet the standards required for international projects. Some suppliers have already reached the standards set globally, while some haven