"Victoria as a Home Base for Camry"
－Before the interview, President Yasuda offered the following statement.
First of all, although I have mentioned this to employees, customers and dealers in various situations, I would like to apologise for creating anxiety in various people in regards to the recall problems which occurred in America in recent years.
Rapid recovery of TOYOTA’s trust is the company’s priority.
－Please tell us about the release of your new hybrid car.
We held a line off ceremony for the production of the Camry Hybrid at the Altona Plant in December last year.
The ex Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Victorian Premier John Brumby attended the ceremony, which I found extremely ‘Australian.’ I felt that the country’s leader or the state government’s leader seemed to feel very close to the automobile manufacturing industry.
It is safe to say that Japan’s leader would never come to the Toyota’s line off ceremony. Perhaps they attended because the line off ceremony was for such a unique car as a hybrid or Kevin Rudd wanted to make a stand right before attending the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15).
Joking aside, I was extremely excited with the surprise and felt gratitude, thinking they are doing a good thing. Kevin Rudd said that this was the first step in a new industry in his speech, and the employees enthusiastically responded with applause. It was a great ceremony.
That was in December. Then we prepared for its sale and gathered dealers in Melbourne with excitement for the big launch. The official sale started at the end of February.
－I have been to Yarra Valley in a Prius rented from a rental car shop, and similarly I have seen many rented Prius cars. Do you think it is because Prius cars have good fuel consumption?
That is good to hear. Being a dedicated hybrid car, a Prius is easy to spot, but a Camry would be difficult to judge from its appearance. We did make a little change, but the appearances are almost the same. Therefore, I would like customers to go for a test drive and feel the difference when they pay the premium for a hybrid.
－What kind of automobile society do you think we are going to have from now on?
At the moment, Mitsubishi and Nissan are pushing for electric cars. We also have electric cars, but the cost is still expensive with current technologies. So hybrid cars are positioned at the middle point. Our core priority, therefore, is a hybrid.
We are trying to increase hybrid car lines with Prius, Camry Hybrid and Lexus in Australia by 2015.
－Do you think the world of petrol only will become that of hybrid and electric cars?
Our expected number is to produce a million hybrid cars in the world by 2011. The cost will decrease with an increased number of car sales. We hope to provide more reasonable prices for customers. If other companies start on hybrid cars, the market for hybrid cars will expand. European companies are expected to come out with their own technologies, so it depends on how much other companies’ sales of hybrid cars increase. Once hybrid cars take up 10 % of the entire market, things will be different.
－Please tell us your next goal.
Australia is considered to be a part of an Australia and Asia region called the Australia and Asia department within our company. We have discussed how we are going to create a supply system within the Australia and Asia department. Our dream is to make Victoria a home base for Camry. I believe it is not an impossibility.
－Thank you for making time for us out of your busy schedule today.