• Bloomberg

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Toyota Motor Corp. will sell a low-cost car in Thailand similar to the Etios compact that will go on sale in India in December.

The new model, also slated for introduction in China and Brazil, will be the “21st century Corolla,” Executive Vice President Yukitoshi Funo said in an interview Monday, referring to the world’s best-selling car.

While Toyota is the leading carmaker in Thailand, its sales in fast-growing economies including India and Brazil lag behind rivals. Adding cheaper models may also help the company raise sales in China, the world’s largest auto market, where its 6.9 percent share this year through August trails leader Volkswagen AG’s 13 percent.

“We have to enter the large-volume zone,” Funo said. “We want to provide a car that is in reach of working people.”

Unlike Nissan Motor Co.’s March and Micra compacts designed for both developed and emerging markets, Toyota’s low-cost car will target “a newly emerging middle class” in developing countries, Funo said. The Innova minivan, Toyota’s cheapest model in India, starts at 834,464 rupees (¥1.56 million), almost double the expected price of the Etios.

Toyota’s Corolla is sold in 52 countries, and cumulative global sales have reached more than 36 million vehicles since the model was introduced in 1966, according to the company.

While pricing the new, cheaper car in the range of competitors’ low-cost models, Toyota will not necessarily undercut rivals, rather providing “additional value” with car quality and after-service maintenance, Funo said.

“Toyota faces a conundrum: Do you want to sell a lot of cars or preserve your brand image?” said Ashvin Chotai, London-based managing director of Intelligence Automotive Asia Ltd. “It’s a careful balance of the two.”

In India, where the tag line for the 1 million rupee (¥1.87 million) Corolla Altis sedan is “Designed to inspire envy,” Toyota sold 50,315 vehicles in the eight months through August. Market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. sold 577,296, according to researcher J.D. Power & Associates.

Toyota sold 197,959 vehicles in Thailand during the same period.

A five-door hatchback version of the Etios may be priced at about 450,000 rupees, while the sedan version may cost an additional 80,000 rupees, said Deepesh Rathore, managing director of IHS Global Insight India.

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