Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada predicted in remarks before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., that hybrid vehicles will play a larger role in the future development of automotive propulsion systems than widely recognized. Uchiyamada became chairman earlier this year, succeeding Fujio Cho.
Some people say hybrid vehicles such as the Prius are only a bridge to the future. But we think it could be a long bridge and a very sturdy one. There are many more gains we can achieve with hybrids.—Takeshi Uchiyamada
In January 1994, Chairman Uchiyamada became project general manager of Vehicle Development Center 2. In January 1996, he became chief engineer of that center, which developed the Prius.
Toyota is working on the fourth generation of the Prius; with each of the previous moves to a new generation, Toyota achieved a 10% increase in mileage per gallon, Uchiyamada said, adding that Toyota is committed to beating that record this time.
Toyota offers more types of hybrids than any other manufacturer. As of March, it had sold 5 million hybrid vehicles around the world. The Prius alone hit a cumulative level of 3 million sales globally in June.
Today I wish to call on the industry to sell 5 million hybrids in the US by the end of 2016. It’s only when we put ourselves under the same kind of intense pressure we faced in developing the Prius that we can achieve great goals. That’s what it takes. I want our industry to achieve this goal.—Takeshi Uchiyamada
Over the longer term, Uchiyamada said he was particularly excited by a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle the company is developing.
I personally expect a lot from this hydrogen fuel cell technology. Perhaps 15 years from now, we can meet again here in Washington and we will know exactly which system has prevailed.—Takeshi Uchiyamada
In other remarks, Uchiyamada said:
Some manufacturers are announcing vehicles that will be completely autonomous but Toyota believes new technologies, such as sensors that can apply brakes or control steering, should be added carefully and in stages. Toyota embraces the goal of zero highway fatalities but believes drivers may need to remain in control of their vehicles for the foreseeable future.
More industry-government cooperation is necessary to allow the creation of Intelligent Transportation Systems in which cars can communicate with each other and with the transportation infrastructure to prevent accidents, ease congestion and reduce emissions.