Lexus to launch in India
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Toyota is launching its premium Lexus brand to India more than two decades after introducing the marque in China, an acknowledgment of the second-most populous country's growing potential as a source of luxury demand.
Lexus will offer two SUVs and a sedan as the first models to be sold at showrooms in New Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the company said in a statement.
"We see opportunities mapped to the remarkable growth the country is experiencing," Akitoshi Takemura, Lexus India senior vice-president, said.
"This is just beginning. We look forward to bringing more exciting products to India in the future."
Rising income levels have helped double passenger-vehicle sales in India over the last 10 years, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data.
Consumer spending is set to triple to US$4 trillion ($5.68 trillion) by 2025 with rising affluence, Boston Consulting Group said in a March 21 report. The wealthy will represent the largest consumer segment for the first time by 2025, accounting for 40 per cent of all spending.
Even so, automobile deliveries are about a tenth of neighbouring China, a country with a comparable population of more than a billion people.
As a newcomer, Lexus will have to compete with the German trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz for luxury buyers.
Toyota is bringing its upscale brand to India at a time when carmakers are warning of slowing demand in major auto markets including the US, Europe and Japan.
Toyota is in discussions with Suzuki about promoting manufacturing in India with the potential to export Indian-made new-technology vehicles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said this month.
India is encouraging investments under a "Make in India" programme, which seeks to ease business dealings and boost local manufacturing by overseas companies.
Volkswagen AG plans to work with Tata Motors on joint projects in India, renewing the German automaker's push to boost its presence in emerging markets after previous efforts failed to gain traction.
France's PSA Group also plans to start producing and selling vehicles in Asia's third-biggest auto market.