2006 May/Jun
What's Vital Is Not to Be Content with Present Work
Interviewer: Okamura Yasushi
Toyota Motor Corp. is rapidly expanding automobile production and sales in various parts of the world, threatening to replace General Motors Corp. of the United States as the world's largest automaker. In FY 2005 through March 31, 2006, Toyota's consolidated sales are expected to reach \20 trillion for the first time ever, with its group net profit rewriting a record for the fourth straight year. Toyota's brisk earnings are in sharp contrast with those of slump-hit General Motors or Ford Motor Co. also of the United States. Are there any blind spots in Toyota's management? Toyota President Watanabe Katsuaki discusses its business strategy and the challenges faced by the No.1 Japanese automaker.

The Toyota group's motor vehicle production will likely reach the 10 million mark in 2008 under the current pace of increase.

Watanabe: I think the fact is that there can be such a figure according to calculations by people in the media community. We have in-house projections for production through 2010 but they are internal target figures used as data for discussions on the challenges facing us and the measures to be taken. They should not be published. At present, Toyota's annual production capacity and sales are reaching the 9 million level. But this level could turn much bigger should we boost plant productivity, let employees work on holidays or do more overtime work, and increase the workforce. In this sense, our calculations may be used to suggest the possibility of Toyota achieving the 10 million mark in 2008. Of course, we as the management side have plans based on various scenarios.

One of Toyota's advantages is the low-pollution hybrid car strategy. When will Toyota put a next-generation hybrid model on the market?

Watanabe: It is in the offing but still not clear. A hybrid car is made up of many key parts such as batteries, inverters and motors. These parts must be developed simultaneously according to timetables. But development of these key parts has not yet entered the final stage. We have a goal to sell 1 million hybrid cars annually in the early 2010s but want to achieve the target even earlier, probably before the start of 2010. We will put the next-generation hybrid car on the market before 2010 and will in parallel increase the number of models which will have hybrid varieties. To help achieve those targets, we are pinning high hopes on the new midsize sedan Camry (we will begin production in ...


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