|North American market Yaris sedan, and its hatchback equivalent.|
|The 2012 Yaris (Vitz in Japan)|
The new 2012 model year Yaris has already been released in Japan, Europe, USA and will be progressively rolled out in other markets. This time however, there will be no sedan version of the Yaris. Toyota Motor Sales, the USA arm of Toyota, have confirmed that there will be no replacement for the current Yaris sedan, and the existing model will continue to be sold alongside the 2012 Yaris, but targeted mainly at the huge fleet / car rental market in America. Compact sedans don't do well outside of Asia and Eastern Europe. So this puts the Vios replacement, estimated to be due by 2013 or early 2014 (depending on country), in doubt. But surely Toyota will not walk away from the light car / B-sedan market, which is huge, especially in China, Malaysia, and Thailand. In some cases they form the largest market segment in the country.
Depending on who you talk to, there are two (or two and a half...) rumours going around on what will the Vios replacement will be. Toyota is said to be working on an Eco-car for the Thai market, while another rumour says that the next generation Vios will be a development of the Indian (soon to be launched in Brazil) market Etios. Of course, significant upgrades will be done to the car to bring it up to level with consumer expectations of more affluent markets. The third rumour (more like half a rumour) says the two are the same - the Eco-car is a reworked / upgraded Etios and is a replacement for the current Vios.
The Indian market Toyota Etios sedan.
Some will moan and say the next Vios will be a cheap Indian market car, a dumbed down third world country car that will perform poorly. Personally, I will hold my judgement until the actual car is revealed. Toyota isn't stupid. Like I said earlier, the light car / B-segment sedan market is extremely important for Toyota and is the bread and butter of many of its distributors in Asia. In fact, it could be their most important new model launch for the developing world. The Etios is only the first iteration within Toyota's grand scheme of a developing market car. Further developments and extensive customization for different regions are possible. The Vios replacement will definitely see very significant upgrades from the low cost Etios. And if an entry level model can be priced even lower from the current Vios J M/T's price, providing an Japanese option from the current Myvi 1.5, which is isn't really cheap for what it is, why not?
Far from being a dumbed down car, the Etios is designed from the ground up to meet challenges of monsoon weather, poor road conditions and while keeping the price low enough to compete in this highly price sensitive segment.
When it arrives in the market by end 2013, the next generation Vios will have to face off with Nissan's Sunny (March sedan), Mazda 2 sedan (which is selling slow here but the Thai plant is already over-stressed meeting demands from other markets), an updated Honda City.