Toyota president Akio Toyoda says that the Japanese automaker is in the midst of a crisis following the release of disappointing financial results in the fiscal year.
In the fiscal year that ended March 31, Toyota reported a 21 per cent drop in net income and said that for the current fiscal, net income will likely fall again.
While discussing the company’s tribulations, Toyoda expressed some serious concerns about the company.
“I feel a strong sense of crisis about whether or not we are actually executing carmaking from the perspective of the customer in all Toyota workplaces, from development, production, procurement and sales, all the way to administrative divisions,” he said.
According to Toyoda, dwindling net income comes as the automotive industry faces arguably the largest shift in its history. There are new competitors in the market and autonomous and electric technologies are being heralded as the future of the automobile.
This drastic shift is expected to send Toyota’s research and development budget to over $9 billion for the fourth year in a row. According to Toyoda, this is part and parcel of an old automaker in the new industry.
“The present automobile industry is being asked to make a paradigm shift. I want to continue planting seeds with a look to 10 or even 20 years into the future.”
One of the most significant changes Toyota is experiencing is its newfound openness to electric vehicles. Originally a skeptic of EVs and a believer that hydrogen was the future, Toyota jumped on the EV bandwagon last year and Toyoda immediately put himself in charge of the project.
“When it comes to electric vehicles, every car, be it the Yaris or whatever, once it is electrified, the acceleration is all the same.
“The reason I am responsible for EVs as well is that I don’t want to make these cars a commodity. Even with the electrification of the vehicles, I want the prefix “I love’ to be affixed to those cars,” he told Automotive News.
Toyoda believes that it will simply take time for companies like his to change and adapt to the developing industry before returning to their former world domination.