|Watanabe characterized the rapid change is the US market toward more fuel-efficient vehicles as structural. Click to enlarge.|
Outlining Toyota’s response to rapidly changing global market conditions, growing environmental issues and increasing material costs, President Katsuaki Watanabe said that the company was accelerating its development of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all electric vehicles. Watanabe said that Toyota would advance its delivery of plug-ins for fleet deployment to 2009 from 2010, and was planning series production of a next-generation electric vehicle in the early 2010s.
Watanabe also said that Toyota had dropped its global sales target for fiscal 2009 to 9.7 million vehicles from the earlier target of 10.4 million. Toyota is expecting flat sales in North America for FY 2009 (approximately 2.70 million units) and Japan (approximately 2.25 million units). The company expects growth in Europe (1.3 million units, up from 1.25 million); Asia (1.75 million units, up from 1.65 million) and Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East (1.7 million, up from 1.65).
Toyota will tailor its operations to various conditions in each of five major regions: Japan; the US; Western Europe; India and Brazil; and China and Russia. Japan remains the core of global operations. Watanabe characterized the US as a growing market in the medium-to-long term, but one that had undergone a structural shift towards more fuel efficient vehicles. In response, Toyota is trying to optimize its North American production, consolidating the production of its trucks, while increasing the supply of fuel efficient hybrids.
Western Europe will see successive launches of low-emission vehicles, including the new iQ with CO2 emissions of 99 g/km and new hybrids. Toyota has scheduled 18 new low-emission models between late 2008 and 2009.
For India and Brazil, Toyota plans a full-fledged entry through new plants and newly-developed compact vehicles. For China and Russia, Toyota will increase local production and expand sales and service networks.
To support its basic strategy of increasing hybrid sales, Toyota is targeting a 1-million unit production capacity of battery packs at PEVE (Panasonic EV Energy), and a large increase of production capacity in 2009 for the new Prius and new dedicated hybrid vehicle. Fundamental to the expansion of the hybrid strategy is ongoing reductions in size, weight and cost for the hybrid drive systems.
On the cost front, Toyota is organizing a special team to review vehicle size, weight, and number of parts of compact vehicles in order to realize cost reductions.
For the medium- to longer-term environmental strategy, Watanabe reiterated Toyota’s focus on electricity, bio-energy and hydrogen as the key elements of a diversified response.