NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp on Friday unveiled its first mass market hybrid car for India, a sport utility vehicle (SUV), charting a new course for the Japanese automaker in one of the world’s fastest growing car markets.
The Urban Cruiser Hyryder SUV, the first car to be built by Toyota as part of a global alliance with Suzuki Motor Corp, will compete with Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors in a segment that accounts for the bulk of auto sales in India.
The new model will be a “game changer” in the electric auto space in India, Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman of local unit Toyota Kirloskar Motor said at a launch event in New Delhi.
Toyota has previously said it would take the hybrid route in developing markets like India, where infrastructure is not ready for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and much of the electricity is generated using coal or other fossil fuels.
While green investors have criticised Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker by sales, for slowness in moving its product line-up to all electric vehicles, the company has said hybrids make more sense in markets where it needs to offer a variety of choices depending on the energy mix and local needs.
Toyota last year committed to spending $60 billion by 2030 to electrify its range of vehicles, but only half of that is for the development of fully electric models.
The car, to be manufactured at a Toyota plant in Karnataka state, will be sold in India and other global markets including Africa. Suzuki will take the SUV from Toyota’s operation in southern India and sell it under its own label.