It’s not often that a car manufacturer throws open their doors to see what exactly goes on behind the scenes. And when they do, especially when we are talking about a giant like Toyota, the experience goes on to become an insight as to why they are one of the biggest and most reliable manufacturers in the world. Along with a few delegates from the media, we got an opportunity to visit the Toyota Kirloskar manufacturing plant at Bidadi, Bengaluru. Spread across 850 acres, this plant has an annual production capacity of over 1,10,000 cars. With thorough presentations and detailed explanations, the Toyota team gave us a glimpse of the life behind their doors.
Before we get into the details, let us give you a brief history of Toyota. Kiichiro Toyoda founded Toyota motors back in the early 1930s with the first vehicle being the G1 truck. History has it that one of these vehicles broke down and Toyota and team of engineers went personally to see that the issue was resolved and the customer was satisfied. Ever since, the company has stuck to its motto of customer-first in almost every aspect of the entire sales process. Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) started off in 1997. After setting up the plant at Bidadi, the company has rolled out some remarkable vehicles. The Qualis came in the year 2000 followed by the all-time popular Corolla in 2003. Then came the Innova in 2005 and the Fortuner in 2009. This was followed by the Etios in 2010 and the Yaris in 2018. There are a total of 359 dealership units lead by 77 dealer principals. Another addition to the Indian market was the luxury brand, Lexus in 2017.
Toyota Technical Training Institute (TTTI) & National Manpower Excellence Center (NMEC)
The first part of the plant visit took us to the TTTI and NMEC. This new facility by Toyota encourages the training of young individuals by a thorough selection of 65 individuals from a total of more than 3000 applicants. The basic idea is to give an opportunity to the underprivileged, 10th pass individuals from Karnataka to a training program which would make them ITI certified and job placement into the manufacturing /production line. This is a rather remarkable initiative by the company to offer equal opportunities to all kinds of people to bring out the complete potential in them. The training that we witnessed looked nothing less and disciplined than a military school.
National Parts Center (NPC)
The second part of the tour was a visit to the NPC. This 30,000 sqm facility is the supply and logistics warehouse for TKM. Interestingly Toyota follows a strict standard of safety. Every person in the facility had to wear closed shoes, a cap, follow a 3 finger point rule while crossing and walk on the green line marked in the facility without using a cell phone. An apt display of discipline and function was followed all throughout the plant. One of the most remarkable attractions of the TKM is the E zone. Spread over 30 acres, this is Toyota’s way of caring for the environment. Beautifully landscaped gardens with different themes are in development with the aim to improvise the quality of the flora and fauna of the facility.
Express Maintenance (EM) and Tech Solutions
The Toyota team took us to one of their dealerships in Bengaluru to showcase customer service. Here we got a glimpse of the EM 60. As the name suggests, Toyota can take your car in and get it out ready and serviced in under 60 minutes, 90 minutes or 120 minutes as per as the job demand. The process is simple, once the car service is scheduled by a customer, a slot is booked. The vehicle enters the facility while the customer relaxes in the lounge and gets the job card made. Parallelly the car is washed and 3 technicians work on the car simultaneously. While the customer is billing the car is re-washed and ready to be dispatched.
For the commercial vehicles, a regular service is scheduled and the dealership even had a restroom/bathroom for the ease of the customers in waiting. A 21-inch digital screen is present like an information kiosk around every single car on display. This tech solution by Toyota enables the customer to pre-customize their car of choice with an option to check all the accessories as well as a real-time comparison with the other car in the segment. This essentially helps the customer by doing the job of a salesman virtually. The dealership had a sophisticated setup of scheduling services/dispatch and CRM’s. Everything we witnessed had a principal and code of conduct to be followed and the entire dealership emphasized the motto of customer first as the top priority.
We’ll be honest with you. One day wouldn’t suffice to experience the sheer size and grandeur of the facility. But with what we witnessed we can be sure to say that Toyota Kirloskar is what every automotive manufacturer in India could use as an inspiration to improvise on every aspect of development. The use of the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is monumental in making the company what it is today. Leadership and innovation are two pillars which Toyota strives to abide by. The amount of attention and importance to the buyer from their end is unmatched. Each and every vehicle they make is a testament of their reliability, durability, quality, efficiency and value. And at the end of the day, no matter which model it is, they have always fulfilled the expectation on the buyer.