HYDERABAD: After the new emission standards kick in from April 1, the auto sector is expected to see an uptick in the sales of vehicles, Naveen Soni, senior vice-president at Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) said on Wednesday.

Auto makers are gearing up to meet the March 31 deadline to switch to BS-VI emission standards. The transport authorities will register BS-IV compliant vehicles only up to March 31. “The auto sector went through a turbulent phase last year. This year, the only transition we are concerned about is the switch to BS VI. The road to the transition, so far, has been smooth,” Soni, who is in charge of sales and customer service functions at TKM, said.

He was speaking at a media interaction after the India launch of the Japanese automaker‘s luxury vehicle Toyota Vellfire. It is a self-charging hybrid electric vehicle with an engine that has two electric motors and a hybrid battery to reduce the emission.

One of the concerns with the BS-VI transition, he said, is how the price increases will play out with the sale of diesel variant vehicles. “We have tried our best to cushion the impact, and make the transition smooth. Hopefully the numbers (sales) will be similar to that of last year,” he said.

He sounded optimistic about people welcoming the transition citing TKM’s own experience. In most of the Toyota showrooms, the waiting period for BS VI-compliant Innova and Fortuner is one month. “We have already been selling BS-VI vehicles, and even when we offered attractive discounts on BS-IV models, customers preferred the latest technology,” he said.

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Responding to a query on the risk involved in launching the luxury minivan Vellfire (priced at Rs 79.5 lakh ex-showroom) at a time when the luxury automobile market too has taken a hit, Soni said the slump has not dampened the buying spirit in the luxury segment. “I think there is a waiting customer willing to pay that kind of money for the product of his choice,” he said, while announcing that the first three shipments of Vellfire (180 units) have already been sold out. “Vellfire is expensive, spacious and hybrid. We want to fill the gap in the sustainable luxury vehicle segment,” Soni said. The seven-seater MPV will compete with the likes of Mercedes V-class Marco Polo and Kia Carnival. The idea, he said, was to cash in on the gap that exists in the segment of luxury cars.

The Japanese automaker is ahead of the regulatory deadline to begin sales of only BSVI vehicles. “Our manufacturing plant has already transitioned to 100% production of BS-VI vehicles and all our dispatches from the plant became BS VI from the end of January 2020. We have sold over 25,000 units of BS-VI vehicles to our dealers till date,” TKM vice chairman Shekar Viswanathan had told ET recently.



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