Press Meets Toyota’s Press in Chicago

February 8, 2007

Rising concern over energy sources, tight oil supplies, as well as the worries over global warming will require automakers to work together more closely than ever before, Toyota Motor North America president Jim Press said during an appearance inChicago.


"At Toyota , we've said for years that automakers should compete in the showroom but cooperate in the laboratory," Press said during a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago. "I hope we're alert enough to recognize that what began a century ago as a metal-bending business has transformed into an amazing high-technology environment that presents a whole world of opportunities for creative solutions," he added.


"I hope we see the immense value that can come from working together both within our industry and across sectors to solve the challenges of our future that working in harmony with each other is a better solution than going it alone," Press added in a speech on the eve of Chicago Auto Show.


Press declined to talk about any kind of specific partnerships, involving Toyota with other automakers. But he confirmed the Japanese automaker is having ongoing discussions with the Ford Motor Co. about new technology and is working with companies such as Subaru and Isuzu on new ventures.


"It's kind of like neighbors, who share a lot of the same issues, talking over the backyard fence. Obviously we're open to work with all companies," Press said. "We're always looking for win-win situations," he said.


"We've made some progress both with suppliers and other car companies. The energy debate has really picked up, with momentum in Congress and the White House and momentum from customers," he added.


"It's really beginning to put more pressure on the industry," Press said. "It's time for us try and solve them," he added.


Press also endorsed President George W. Bush's plan to boost CAFE standards. Domestic manufacturers have expressed reservations about the plan, saying they fear it could put them at a disadvantage versus foreign competitors.


Press also told his audience Toyota plans to increase its production capacity in North America by more than 500,000 units within 24 months. In addition, Toyota plans to invest more than $8 billion in research and development or roughly $1000 for every vehicle it sells worldwide, Press said.


Worldwide Toyota is spending more than a billion dollars a month on plants and equipment.


Localization also helps us to reduce currency exposure, Press said. "Now contrary to popular opinion, we prefer to focus on building better cars rather than the currency tables," he added in an obvious dig at competitors who have complained Toyota has gained an advantage from the artificially low value of the Japanese yen. "Quality is almost a religion at Toyota and indeed, the quality, durability, and reliability of our products is mainly for our company's reputation," Press said.


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