With effect from Monday (September 27), Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) will stop producing the Yaris due to declining sales and shifting buyer preferences from sedans to sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The premium mid-size sedan was launched three years ago by the Japanese carmaker’s local branch to compete with the Honda City and Hyundai Verna, among others.

The Yaris’ demise is part of a bigger global plan that has seen Toyota Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation collaborate on goods for India and its neighbours. Toyota will obtain the new-generation Suzuki Ciaz, which will be unveiled during the festival season this year, similar to the Glanza and the Urban Cruiser, which are rebadged versions of the Suzuki Baleno and Brezza.

The sedan’s phasing out is part of TKM’s product strategy to “continue to adapt to the ever-evolving needs of the consumer through upgraded technology and product offerings,” according to the company. Toyota said in a statement that preparations are continuing for the debut of new models in 2022.

Why the decision? 

The Ciaz and the Yaris both addressed the same market niche. As a result, continuing to market a low-selling, under-performing model made little or no sense.

The Yaris made its debut at the 2018 Auto Show, with the goal of luring in newer buyers who couldn’t afford a Toyota car. However, it did not have the anticipated effect. Toyota sold less than 600 Yaris each month, compared to Honda and Hyundai, which sold 1,200 to 1,300 City and Verna models per month.

It didn’t help that consumer preferences have been fast shifting to compact and mid-size SUVs in recent years. The sector accounts for a third of the country’s total passenger vehicle (PV) sales.

The Yaris lacked important features, such as back legroom. The Urban Cruiser and the Glanza ruined any chance it had, according to Avik Chattopadhyay, co-founder of Expereal, a brand consultancy agency.

“The Yaris was marketed as a less expensive Toyota. The arrival of the Suzuki rebadged cars, which were roomier, better, and less expensive, diluted that message,” stated Chattopadhyay.

Furthermore, with the Glanza and the Urban Cruiser, Toyota and Suzuki had found success, and rebadging the third product supported the approach, according to Puneet Gupta, director of I.H.S Markit, a sales forecasting and market research business.

“They (automakers) would rather save their money to invest in new technologies such as electric or hybrid vehicles. No one wants to invest in markets that rely solely on internal combustion engines anymore,” he continued.

Toyota will continue to provide seamless service to all Yaris customers through its dealer service locations around the country, with the assurance that genuine spare parts will be available for at least 10 years on this discontinued model.

Also, read: Top 9 reasons to consider Toyota vehicles