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Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT) is ready to produce and sell a low-cost car locally to tap more middle-class and first-time buyers but the model is still being decided, according to the Bangkok Post.

Yukitoshi Funo, an executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Corp in Japan was quoted by the report saying that a low-cost car dubbed “the 21st century Corolla” — a reference to the world’s best selling car first introduced in 1966 — would be sold in Thailand and similar models would be offered in emerging markets including China, India and Brazil.

The car could either be the Etios, due to go on sale in India in December, or a new car to be developed similar to the Etios, the report said.

The Etios might not be accepted in the Thai market as Thai consumers demand higher specifications and features than Indian drivers.

TMT is also continuing to study the development of eco-cars for both domestic and overseas markets, as promoted by the Thai government.

“Maybe the eco-car will be adopted as the low-cost car as mentioned by our parent company,” a company spokesman was quoted saying.

Toyota still has ample time to develop the eco-car in Thailand, with a possible rollout of a small and fuel-efficient vehicle in late 2012 or early 2013, behind other players, most of which are expected to introduce their models next year.

Currently, the Nissan March is the only eco-car marketed in Thailand and it has been highly successful.

The Corolla is sold in 52 countries with cumulative global sales of more than 36 million units since its debut 44 years ago. In Thailand, the Corolla was also introduced in 1966. The third generation launched in 1974 was the first assembled in Thailand.

In 2008 the 10th generation of the Corolla was introduced and it has become the benchmark in the upper-end compact segment. Toyota has sold 520,000 Corollas locally since 1966. – Source: Bangkok Post

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