Toyota President Sees Continued Research on Plug-in Hybrids

Katsuaki Watanabe's New Year letter to Toyota employees includes support for plug-in hybrid research, as well as pledge to continue to improve conventional hybrid model line up.

Published: 03-Jan-2007

First of all, allow me to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Entering the new year, I would like to describe some of the measures we are planning for 2007.

Looking at the automobile markets worldwide, there are a number of regions where we can expect increased automobile use in the future, and in those regions where automobile use has already reached high levels, we can look forward to the introduction of vehicles with new technologies and concepts. As a result, we expect the automobile market to continue growing over the medium- to long-term.

At the same time, however, it is certain that global competition will become increasingly fierce. Under these circumstances, I believe that it is more important than ever to be aware that without improvements, Toyota cannot expect to grow. To that end, Toyota must not only focus its technology development on the environment, safety and energy, but must also remain an exemplary manufacturing company that implements thorough measures concerning quality, cost competitiveness and human resources development. I also want Toyota to be a company imbued with vitality and dignity.

Based on this thinking, we will position 2007 as a year for building a stronger foundation toward great advances in the future and will implement a wide range of different projects.

First, concerning products, in the spring we will launch a hybrid version of the Lexus LS, starting with sales in Japan and gradually going global. As for the new-generation Corolla, in addition to launching it in Japan last year, this year we plan to introduce it globally, starting with China.

In Japan, we will introduce even more new vehicles than last year to respond accurately to the needs of customers, who as a group possess a diverse range of values, and to make some contribution, small though it may be, to expanding markets and stimulating the domestic economy. In autumn, the Tokyo Motor Show will feature both passenger and commercial vehicles for the first time in eight years. Toyota plans to display attractive concept vehicles that generate feelings of excitement and anticipation among the visitors to the show.

Next, in the area of production, we will begin producing the Camry in the spring at SIA (Subaru of Indiana Automotive), Fuji Heavy Industries' North American production base. Our new plant in Russia will begin operations at the end of 2007, and we also plan to begin production at new plants in both Thailand and China.

In Japan, upgrading of the production lines at the Takaoka Plant will be completed. We are positioning the plant to become Toyota's base for innovative manufacturing in Japan, employing Toyota's most-advanced technologies and leading other plants around the world.

As our overseas business continues to expand, it is necessary for us to reinforce the foundations of manufacturing. To this end, we will implement additional localization measures, including human resources development from a global perspective and further support for local affiliates to operate autonomously.

With respect to research and development, we will continue to devote our full energies to projects related to the environment, safety and energy.

Concerning the environment, Toyota has positioned hybrid technologies as core technologies that can contribute to resolving environmental issues, and we will undertake development with a commitment to leading the advancement of such technologies. We will continue to enhance our hybrid vehicle lineup and also actively engage in research and development for plug-in hybrids. In response to the diversification of energy sources, we intend to introduce in the spring in Brazil a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) that can run on 100 percent bioethanol fuel.

Based on the concept of "the right vehicle for the right place at the right time," Toyota is committed to developing environmental technologies and rolling out environmentally considerate vehicles that are suited to the infrastructure of each region and meet the needs of customers.

This year, we will mark a number of key milestones. We will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Toyota Motor Corporation as well as the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Toyota Motor Sales, USA. It will also be the 50th year of our international participation in motorsports, and we are looking forward to the start of F1 racing at Fuji Speedway in Japan.

"Be contributive to the development and welfare of the country by working together, regardless of position, in faithfully fulfilling your duties." "Be at the vanguard of the times through endless creativity, inquisitiveness and pursuit of improvement." These are the words of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyota Group. In this milestone year, each employee should consider the significance of these words, always bear in mind a sense of gratitude toward all stakeholders, and do their very best in their work to provide customers and society with a sense of safety and happiness.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity today to call on your further support and guidance in the future.

Thank you very much.

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