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April 25, 2016

Larry Hutchinson, recently named President and CEO, Toyota Canada spoke with CAF about the company’s sales success, emerging vehicle technology and the responsibility of being the first Canadian President.

Larry Hutchison, President and CEO at Toyota Canada Inc
Larry Hutchinson, President and CEO at Toyota Canada Inc.
CAF: Toyota’s global sales success is no secret. How do the attributes of that success translate into value for Canadian fleet customers.

HUTCHINSON: Toyota’s values behind the design and engineering of its vehicles and the customer focused mindset exist on a global level, while recognizing that each regional market has unique mobility needs and infrastructures.

For Canadians, this means access to vehicles with lasting value that demonstrate the quality, dependability, reliability (QDR) and safety that Toyota is known for. They also continue to engage our customers with new styling, fun-to-drive performance and advance technology that our Canadian customers are looking for in the vehicles they drive.

Last year, Toyota Canada achieved its second best-ever sales year with 209,000 vehicles sold. Total fleet sales were up 14% in 2015, compared to 2014 and outpaced growth of total industry numbers. Toyota Canada will continue to build on the momentum gained and leverage the launch of key vehicles in the fleet business.

CAF: Toyota’s recent debut of the U2 concept is being seen by many as a way for the OEM to test the waters of the growing small utility van market. Do you see enough North American demand for this type of vehicle and who would it be targeting?

HUTCHINSON: Prior to developing this unique Urban Utility (U2) Concept vehicle, researchers at Calty Design Research (Toyota’s design operations in California) met with notable makers in San Francisco, at the Bay Area Maker Faire, to understand their lifestyle, needs, and the challenges they face when it comes to mobility.

Larry Hutchison, President and CEO at Toyota Canada Inc
Larry Hutchinson, President and CEO at Toyota Canada Inc.
As a company of makers, Toyota has been driven by a passion for designing and engineering practical solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of its consumers. The Toyota U2 Concept is an example of that. Concepts allow Toyota to gauge what customers want to see in the vehicles they drive and how they can be improved to cater to their needs. The U2 Concept is also the perfect vehicle for young, urban drivers who lead an active lifestyle and have embraced adventure. It’s a flexible, functional mobile gadget that owners can customize according to their individual, on-the-go needs. Its custom graphics and interior colours and materials make the U2 Concept a reflection of the owner’s style, while its compact footprint makes the U2 Concept easy to drive and park in crowded urban cores

CAF: Toyota is a recognized leader in hybrid technology. Gasoline’s current low cost is challenging the value advantage hybrids offered. What evolution of this technology is needed to increase adoption and how will it support commercial customers’ needs.

HUTCHINSON: For Toyota, the future of mobility is about more than the cars and trucks seen on the road today. It’s the commitment to developing solutions for the unique mobility needs and infrastructure in all regions around the globe. From conventional gas engines, to hybrids and now fuel cell vehicles, Toyota has taken a broad portfolio approach to lead the automotive industry in advanced powertrain innovation for a better, greener tomorrow. By investing time and money into research and development of various mobility solutions, Toyota envisions a low carbon society with the aim to improve fuel efficiency in all vehicles and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Toyota has globally established an ambitious set of targets to be reached over the next 35 years through the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. This includes developing technologies that will improve fuel efficiency and aims to reduce average CO2 emissions by more than 90 per cent by 2050 from 2010 levels. The goal is to move toward a net positive impact rather than just trying to reduce negative factors to zero.

CAF: Fleet customers have a long list of wants and needs when it comes to selecting their vehicles. How do Toyota vehicles help commercial customers check off as many of these boxes as possible?

HUTCHINSON: Whether our customers are looking at vehicles for personal or fleet use, our goal at Toyota is to exceed our customers’ expectations.

Toyota offers a full line-up of Toyota vehicles from compact vehicles, to SUVs and trucks. They all demonstrate the QDR and safety attributes customers expect in our vehicles, with a suite of new styling and dynamic driving features that are aimed to fit the needs of our wide range of customers.

Toyota consistently receives awards and accolades that demonstrate the resale value and low cost of ownership of our vehicles. This is a part of Toyota’s commitment to continuously improving our vehicles through innovation, such as improving fuel efficiency and performance in all our vehicles including conventional gas engines.

CAF: As Toyota Canada's first Canadian to be named President, what insights do you bring as a "native son" that will benefit the corporation and customers alike?

HUTCHINSON: I’ve been with Toyota Canada for thirty years, and today, many would say that it is a long time to be with one company. I experienced great change in both our industry and at Toyota, but one reason I’m proud to be a part of this company is the dedication I see behind our team and our dealers.

The decision for Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan to appoint a Canadian as president was a vote of confidence in our Canadian operations – something that was achieved by over fifty years of focus on customer service. This change demonstrates Toyota’s commitment to the growth of our business in Canada.

With the understanding of both Toyota culture and the Canadian market, we are positioned for further success. We need to anticipate the market and get there ahead of everyone, without forgetting the values that made us successful. This year, we will have sold over five million vehicles in Canada, and we’re proud of this milestone. And our team is already busy working on the next five million.

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