Toyota may make its globally-popular Camry sedanin India, the deputy managing director of its Indian subsidiary has said.

Local assembly would allow the car to escape the huge import duty on imported cars and may bring down its price by as much as 20-25% if the company passes on the entire benefit to buyers, the Economic Times of India (ETI) said.

The model is currently made in the US and Australia and assembled from kits in other markets such as Vietnam and Russia.

The fully-imported Camry currently attracts a composite import duty of 110% in India where it competes with cars like the Mercedes C class and Skoda Superb in the country’s 8,000 units a year premium segment, the paper added.

If locally produced, its lower price would pitch it against the (also locally assembled) Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Skoda Laura in the much larger 25,00-cars-a-year executive segment.

Toyota operates a joint venture in India with Kirloskar Group Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM).

TKM deputy managing director (marketing) Sandeep Singh told ETI: “We are contemplating local assembling for Camry depending on volumes. It is one of our flagship products and we are selling in excess of 500 cars per year.”

The report said Toyota also is mulling launching the Fortuner SUV in India market sometime later this year. It would be imported in completely knocked down (CKD) kit form for full local assembly, again dodging the huge import duty on assembled vehicles.

TKM MD Hiroshi Nakagawa told ETI, “After a decade of operations in India, we are increasing our focus here. We plan to launch an all-new ‘strategic small car’ platform for India and other emerging markets and would also utilise Indian talent for product development.”

The paper said Toyota missed its India sales target of 60,000 vehicles for calendar year 2008 by around 14%, selling only 51,803 units. “The difficult period in the domestic market will continue for the next couple of months. We hope it would start showing improvements by March and revive by the second half of 2009. We shall adjust our production as per the market demand,” Singh said.

As a temporary measure it had cut production at the existing plant in Bangalore by 30% till March 2009 on the back of falling demand. The company would also launch a few more models from the global range such as the Land Cruiser.

ETI noted that Toyota has committed to setting up its second manufacturing plant in Bangalore by 2010 and moving ahead with its expansion plans but a separate unsourced report in Japan’s Nikkei business daily today said this had now been delayed until the end of 2010 and that Toyota had dropped plans to also make the Corolla in the second plant as well as the existing facility.