Toyota President Sends Out New Year Greetings

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Japanese automaker Toyota is on track to become the world's largest automaker this year. The company has been increasing its hold in the very important United States auto market. With the coming of the New Year, Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe outlined their goals for 2008.

He pointed out the fact that the auto industry is going green saying: "The business environment has undergone major changes in the past few years. The biggest of these changes has been the increasing demand for corporate social responsibility as the result of global warming, resource depletion and other environmental issues. Environmental issues are attracting worldwide attention, an example of this being the Toyako Summit to be hosted in Japan during July of this year at which concrete discussions are to be held on the post-Kyoto Protocol framework. In the automobile industry, as well, achieving harmony with society and the earth has become a top-priority issue."

With that in mind, Watanabe said that they believe that hybrid technology is the way to go forward when it comes to green auto technologies. "Firstly, research and development refers to the pursuit of sustainable mobility, and we believe that it is hybrid technologies that will play a central role in achieving this," said Watanabe.

"Toyota has made considerable efforts to promote the use of hybrid vehicles since the launch of the Prius in 1997. To date, we have achieved global cumulative sales of 1.25 million hybrid vehicles (as of November 2007). We estimate that the resulting reduction effect in CO2 emissions is 5 million tons. Our current goal is to achieve hybrid vehicle sales of 1 million units annually as soon as possible in the early 2010s, and, beyond that, we are committed to having a hybrid model in all Toyota vehicle series. Furthermore, we are now conducting verification tests of a plug-in hybrid vehicle in Japan, the United States and Europe and as such, are making steady progress toward commercialization," he added.

Hybrid vehicles of today can become greener if they are equipped with better batteries. Rechargeable batteries which are as reliable are being developed now by the automaker. "A critical component of hybrid technology is the battery. In addition to the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the Prius and other hybrid vehicles, we are working steadily toward the development and production of lithium-ion batteries, which offer the advantages of greater energy and output densities. In the area of energy research, we have also begun development of cellulosic ethanol using our specialized biotechnologies," added Watanabe.

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