Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) has begun exporting Etios cars, manufactured at its Bangalore plant, to South Africa.

The first batch of 247 units was loaded on to Antares Leader, a roll-on-roll-off vessel, at the Ennore port, The Hindu reported.

TKM managing director Hiroshi Nakagawa said the company was looking to export 20,000 Etios to South Africa a year. He said with the start of Etios exports “we have been successful in completing our vision of making Toyota Indian operations a strategic hub for both the domestic and global markets.”

Toyota SA Motors sales and marketing chief Calvyn Hamman said the Etios was expected to help the South African unit improve its market share with a presence in the growing small car segment. The overall SA market including trucks is 590,000 units and Toyota has an 18.5% share.

The demand for smaller vehicles was on the rise in South Africa, he said, adding that the Etios would be promoted as an entry-level car for middle class households. The entry-level model would be priced at SAR116,000 (US$14,790) including a service plan.

The export Etios is customised to suit local requirements. The company will export only petrol variants.

Hamman said the modification included tyres to withstand higher speed. While the average speed on highways in South Africa is 120km/h, motorists tend to go up to 160km/h.

TKM marketing chief Sandeep Singh said the company was doing well after the launch of the Etios and was focused on expanding in to semi-urban and rural markets.

Toyota to export Etios from India