Message from Executive Vice President
Mitsuhisa Kato, Executive Vice President, gave a speech at the press conference.
Good morning and thanks for coming today. I’m Mitsuhisa Kato, executive vice president in charge of technology development at Toyota.
So, what do you think of our future vision for cars? I’m here to tell you about another new Toyota initiative. As you might know, Kirobo, the robot astronaut, went to the International Space Station in August. He’s going to have experimental conversations with space station commander Koichi Wakata. Kirobo is very intelligent and kind, and as Toyota technologies were used to give him intelligence, we wondered what it would be like if we could bring this kind of “partner” into our cars. That’s the dream behind this new project.
To be an irreplaceable partner for our customers. This is a new challenge for us. The Toyota Heart Project.
As times change, cars will evolve more and more. But no matter how much cars evolve, there should always be something about them that must not change. We must not turn cars into a simple means of transport—a tool. As carmakers, we are forever committed to cars. For our customers, we want to continue being that irreplaceable presence, always providing them with their own piece of happiness to own, drive and talk about.
There are two things we think about when developing new models; One: It’s not a car if it’s not fun, and Two: Our slogan, “Toyota ReBorn.”
The Toyota 86, Crown, Avalon and RAV4—are cars we dared to see reborn. What do you think of these cars? I think it’s great there are “fors” and “againsts”. We don’t want a car that people neither love nor hate. We want to make cars that people fall madly in love with; cars that convince them they could never drive anything else. That’s the direction our vehicle development is taking.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I joined Toyota in 1975. As an engineer, I learned a lot of important things from my bosses and colleagues, but I learned an equal amount from the Corolla. For 16 years I worked on that car, and I put four generations out there. The Corolla is Toyota’s best-selling model, loved all around the world. I have traveled the world listening to feedback. What I found was that even though the Corolla is sold everywhere, the “seasoning” of the car varies depending on the country. The reason is the roads. They’re all different. The road makes the car—that’s one of the things the Corolla taught me.
In May, I visited the Nürburgring motorsports complex in Germany, a demanding circuit where carmakers from around the world come to evaluate their vehicles. They hold a grueling 24-hour endurance race there every May. This year Toyota president Akio Toyoda entered as a driver. When he returned to the pits after the event he was all smiles, but I suddenly got teary-eyed. And it wasn’t just because he was safely home. There were all levels of workers there at Nürburgring, from president down to new recruit. You see, a job title means nothing at Nürburgring. Rather than a president, Akio was just another test driver focused on developing a new car. He was surrounded by car enthusiasts devoted to creating an ever-better vehicle. At Nürburgring this year, the 86 was busy teaching everyone lots of important things, just like the things the Corolla taught me: commitment to cars, valuing the workplace, thinking of the customer, and respecting your peers. When you develop a car with these things in mind, you are guaranteed to make an ever-better car. So, at that moment, when I was reminded how wonderful cars are, the emotion was just too great.
I love cars. First and foremost, I want to be an engineer. During any period of history, engineers have the same dream: to create the future with our own hands. In the future we see, our customers are all smiling because of our cars. At Toyota, our slogans are “Fun to drive, again.” and “We love cars.” Going forward, we’ll continue making great cars. So watch this space!