TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. launched the WiLL Vi car in Japan, little changed from the funky four-door shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Although sales volumes will be modest - Toyota aims to sell 1,500 a month - the WiLL Vi could be the most significant new-model launch for Toyota in the Japanese market this year.
The car aims to attract buyers who largely have shunned Toyota's conservative offerings. 'It's been said that Toyota has not been particularly strong in attracting young people,' said Toyota President Fujio Cho at the launch. 'But we believe the WiLL Vi will send a strong message to the new generation.'
Indeed, Toyota wants 70 percent of the Vi's buyers to be women. Moreover, the company wants 40 percent of the buyers to be single women in their 20s. If it succeeds, those would be the highest numbers for those demographics of any Toyota model in Japan.
The car comes in only two variants. A base model is priced at 1.3 million yen, or about $12,380 at current exchange rates. With an optional canvas sunroof, the car's only factory option, the price rises to $13,810.
Although the young Turks who designed the car had considered selling it over the Internet, that's not how it worked out. Instead, it will be sold through Toyota's Vista channel.
'That's probably because of the huge pressure from dealers,' said Kunihiko Shiohara, auto analyst for Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd.
The Vi uses the Vitz platform, making it the fourth car to do so. Others are the Vitz, Platz and FunCargo, known overseas as the Yaris, Echo and Verso, respectively.