India urged Toyota on Wednesday to produce customer-friendly, low-cost and fuel-efficient small passenger cars both for Indian roads and for export to push India as a auto manufacturer globally.

Speaking at the launch of the Toyota-Technical Education Programme, Santosh Mohan Dev, India's heavy industries and public enterprises minister, hoped Toyota would expand its footprint in India because although Toyota is the world's second-largest car maker its presence is low in India's rapidly growing market, reported Kyodo News.

In the 2005-2006 business year, India manufactured and sold in its domestic market 1.1m passenger cars and 8.9m motor vehicles overall but Toyota's share in India was just 50,000 vehicles.

While admitting Toyota is under-represented in India, Yoshimi Inaba, a Toyota executive vice president, told Kyodo News the company is ''vigorously studying'' the Indian market and would come up with an effective plan because India is a priority.

As part of Toyota's moves in India, joint venture Toyota Kirloskar Motor will begin offering auto mechanic training programmes at Indian technical colleges to deal with a rise in its vehicle sales in India, another Toyota official said.

The programmes, to start late this month at four schools in New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities, are aimed at securing skilled mechanics for Toyota.

The venture is planning to make Indian students able to conduct Toyota-certified periodic inspections by the time of their graduation next year, the official told the news agency.

Toyota Kirloskar will also try to hire graduates for its dealerships.

The venture plans to train 1,700 auto mechanics in India over the next five years and will increase the number of technical schools where it has training programmes to around 20, the official said.

The programme will also train instructors at the institutions in the latest technology used at Toyota so the students can be fully trained.

On-the-job training at Toyota dealerships will also be part of the programme, Kyodo News said.

Small car essential for Toyota India

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