Toyota Thailand Refreshes Subcompact Leader Vios

Having received a new 1.5L engine last year, the facelifted Vios mainly focuses on exterior design more consistent with the brand’s family-friendly look.

Edd Ellison, Correspondent

February 3, 2017

3 Min Read
Thai Japanese engineers collaborated on newgen Vios subcompact
Thai, Japanese engineers collaborated on new-gen Vios subcompact.

Toyota Thailand pulls the wraps off an extensively revised version of its subcompact- segment-leading Vios sedan during a media launch in Bangkok.

The Vios is a key model for Toyota in Thailand and the refresh aims to give it a more distinctive and prestigious feel, breaking away from the model’s traditionally bland looks. Having received a new engine last year, the facelifted Vios mainly focuses on exterior design more consistent with the brand’s family-friendly look.

The Vios celebrates its 20th year in the Thai market, and Toyota wants to reaffirm its longtime position as the segment leader with 850,000 units having sold to date. That gives it a 40% market share.

Presiding over the launch, Kyoichi Tanada, Toyota Managing Officer and President of Toyota Thailand, contends the new model is well-placed to be “the leader of sales in 1.5L passenger cars with a new design reflecting premium (features). It’s large and comfortable inside and (offers) a better driving experience” with a variable-valve-timing transmission.

“The Vios will target a new generation of man and woman who want to be successful,” he says. “It’s a car for in town and outside of town and reflects the character of the owner.”

Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, executive vice president-Toyota Thailand, adds the automaker’s sales target for the new Vios is 2,600 units per month, or roughly 32,100 per year. That’s a hike of almost half again when compared with last year’s sales volume of 21,800 units, although he notes production was halted for the first four months of 2016 during model change. Dealers also had to sell accumulated stocks of the outgoing model.

Prices are raised across the board compared with the previous-model Vios, with the J entry- level version, starting at TB609,000 ($17,350), a rise of TB10,000 ($285). The E model comes in at TB679,000 ($19,300), also up TB10,000; the G is priced at TB729,000 ($20,800); and the range-topping S is TB789,000 ($22,500), some TB40,000 ($1,140) more than the previous version.

All versions come only with automatic transmissions, but Toyota does offer a choice of six body colors.

Suriyachantananont believes the price rise is justifiable. “Customers will stand to gain a lot more value, especially with the top model,” he says. “It’s the only passenger sedan in this class to have leather seats. With this price, we think we can compete.”

Suparat Sirisuwanangkura, senior executive adviser-Toyota Thailand, notes Thai and Japanese engineers jointly developed the new Vios with details such as 15- and 16-in. alloy wheels being styled in Thailand to reflect local tastes.

Outwardly, the main changes include a new front end that features a more distinctive bumper, grille and headlights as well as LED driving lights, while the rear end includes a distinctive chrome strip that wraps into the restyled lights.

Sirisuwanangkura adds the 1.5L dual VVT-I ethanol-compatible engine and 7-speed CVT with sequential shifting enhance the segment-leading package.

Tanada says Toyota expects stiff completion in the subcompact segment this year. Honda has refreshed its top-selling City sedan and is undercutting the new Vios’s pricing across the model range.

Apart from the launch of the new-generation Vios, one of the first questions put to Toyota executives is about the possibility of trade wars with the U.S. under its President Trump.

“The Thai economy doesn’t have anything to do with the policy of the U.S.,” Tanada says, but notes Trump “doesn’t like China very much.”

That means any possible trade dispute between the U.S. and China would have aftereffects in Thailand, Tanada says, adding, “Not only Thailand but the whole of the ASEAN region is affected by the Chinese economy.”

Trade wars in other sectors could spell bad news for Thailand’s car industry in terms of reduced consumer spending power, Tanada notes. “We have to think of the price of rubber, rice, fruit – if the economy is bad it will affect the car industry.”

For now, however, there appears to be a quiet confidence among key OEMs that Thailand’s battered automotive industry will turn a corner this year and sales will rise.

About the Author(s)

Edd Ellison

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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