Kaz Ohara, Toyota USA Sales CEO, sits down with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller to talk about the automaker’s plans to win over the U.S. truck segment, the rising demand for hybrid vehicles like the Prius and Rav4 EV, and the effect of the yen has on business. At the end of the interview, Ohara is asked about a possible new Toyota vehicle.
As for trucks, Ohara notes that it takes time to become a major player in any segment, which hinders the Toyota Tundra’s sales. Because its history in the U.S. market is relatively short when compared to Ford and GM, Toyota is setting out to establish the brand image and a unique position in the marketplace, Ohara said.
Miller switched topics to the rise of hybrid vehicles, and the fact that Toyota dominates the market, with 70 percent of all electric vehicles sold in the U.S. from Toyota. Ohara commented that in order for the Prius to be produced in the U.S., more investments will be needed. Currently, more hybrids are purchased in Japan, as the Japanese government offers large incentives, whereas in America, sales depend more on the economy as the government doesn’t offer the same support.
When asked about the yen exchange rate, Ohara commented that it doesn’t matter too much to them, since only 30 percent of the automaker’s vehicles are imported. Although, he did mention that if the yen rate rises between 80 and 90, it would cause a worst-case scenario for the company, pushing them to think about North American production more seriously, which led him to say that the Lexus ES will start production in Kentucky starting in 2015.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Toyota will be producing an enthusiast or sports car. Rumors of a new Supra have been circulating, causing Miller to ask Ohara the plans Toyota has for such a vehicle. He couldn’t say much, other than there are options currently circulating, including a possible Supra, but no project has been confirmed. He leaves us with the statement that in the future he will have some good news.