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Toyota reports profit, not to buy Kirloskars

Washington :Japanese auto major Toyota, which clocked a net profit Rs 529-crore in FY15 after being in the red for the previous two years, is not looking at buying out its partner Kirloskar Group that owns 11 per cent in the joint venture.

“We have a long-term relationship with Kirloskar and we are happy with the present arrangement. Neither we are planning to increase our stake to 100 per cent nor they are looking at exiting the partnership,” Toyota Kirloskar Motor managing director Naomi Ishii, who turned around the company after taking over in January 2014, told PTI here in an interaction.

Toyota entered the country in October 1997 as a joint venture with the Kirloskar Group that owns 11 per cent. It began production from the 432-acre Bidai, Bangalore plants from December 1999.

Company vice-chairman & whole-time director Shekar Viswanathan was also quick to add that the Kirloskars have no plan to exit or increase the stake in the joint venture, as both the partners are happy with the way the joint venture is functioning.

When asked what is failing the company as its market share (around 5.7 per cent now) is not going up despite having world-class products, Ishii said the company is not chasing market share or sales numbers here but focusing on ensuring that it retains its 1 million customers.

“We are not chasing any numbers here, though growing profitably is a call for me. But my priority is to ensure that Toyota retains 100 per cent of its customers,” Ishii said, adding, however, India is one of the eight focus markets for the world’s second largest automaker.

Explaining the rationale further, he said “we have a total of 1 million customers here and our primary aim is to make them satisfied and loyal in every way.”

Stating that Toyota has a what-ever-it-takes stance on retaining its customers, Ishii said money will not be a problem for growth here as the company has already invested around Rs 8,000 crore since its entry in 1997.

When asked why the company is not bringing in the Lexus, the most pricey model among the Toyota portfolio, Ishii said he is not sure whether the domestic market is ready for a multi-million-dollar car as yet.