Seiji Ichii - 2014 Toyota Canada Inc. Annual Dinner Remarks

January 12, 2014
As prepared for:

2014 North American International Auto Show 
Sunday, January 12, 2014, Windsor, ON
Seiji Ichii, President & CEO, Toyota Canada Inc.
Good evening … Happy New Year … and welcome to our annual Detroit Auto Show Canadian dinner.  
This is the fourth year we have kicked off our week at the Detroit Auto Show with this very important event.
One of the great strengths of the Detroit Show is its international flavour.
But it can leave a bit of a void when it comes to Canada … which is why this evening is so valuable.
It gives us an opportunity to put the focus exclusively on Canada … to make sure the Canadian voice is heard … and not be overshadowed by the global perspective of this event …
Once again this year, we are privileged to have so many distinguished Canadians joining us. We are so grateful you have made the effort to join us here.
Among our guests, we welcome many of Canada’s top business and auto industry journalists. It is our pleasure to host all of you.
We are also fortunate to have a number of government representatives attending tonight.
Please join me in welcoming:  
  • Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada in Detroit;
  • Elaine Hood, Director of Automotive and Transportation at Industry Canada; and
  • Maureen Enge, Marc Sharrett and Julie Washburn, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Investment and Industry Division.
In addition, we have some of Canada’s most respected analysts here, including Dennis DesRosiers.
From Toyota, we are pleased to have our Canadian leaders on hand. Including:
  • Ray Tanguay, Chairman Toyota Canada and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada;
  • Seiji Ichii, President  TCI;
  • Brian Krinock, President  TMMC;
  • Stephen Beatty, Vice President Corporate TCI; and
  • Larry Hutchinson, Vice President Sales TCI.
For all of us at Toyota, and in this industry, there is no week quite like this one.
It’s an exhilarating way to start a brand new year.
Making it even better, Toyota Canada begins 2014 with great momentum on the heels of a fantastic twenty-thirteen.
We’re extremely proud of what we have accomplished … from a sales standpoint … as you’ll hear from Seiji  a little later … and in terms of manufacturing  … as Brian will describe.
Most exciting of all, this year we are commemorating a major milestone.
The fiftieth anniversary of TCI … It’s hard to believe it has already been fifty years of our strong and unwavering commitment to Canada.
We’ll celebrate the occasion a little later this year … when we mark our official incorporation date in the third quarter.
At that time, we’ll enjoy some special festivities with our customers … dealers … associates … and partners … everyone who has helped make Toyota Canada what it is today … one of the key pillars in Canada’s vibrant automotive sector.
As we now embark on our next fifty years in Canada, we do so with a new spirit.
We’ve had a big infusion of passion … the waku doki, that global Toyota President Akio Toyoda often speaks of.
For our products, that means exciting design … and exciting performance …
We’re advancing our innovation around the world to bring better vehicles to customers … while maintaining a uniquely local approach in equipping vehicles.
That winning formula helps explain why we lead the industry in purchase intent andrespect …
Why we were named Reader’s Digest “Most Trusted Passenger Car Manufacturer in Canada” for the fifth straight year.
Why thirteen models from Toyota, four from Lexus, and four from Scion won Top Safety Awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
More than any other manufacturer.
It’s why … for the thirteenth year in a row … a Toyota Prius won an ecoENERGY award for fuel efficiency …
Why … among Canadian Black BookALG and Vincentric, our vehicles collected twenty-five different awards for long-term value …
And it’s why Toyota continues to be one of the world’s top ten brands according to Interbrand’s global annual survey.
As we look to the future, we remain more committed than ever to strengthening our leadership … by continuing to build vehicles of the highest quality … and incorporating world-class innovation …
Which brings me back to this Detroit show…
We’ll be sharing many innovative ideas that we know will turn heads this week.  
The buzz leading up to Detroit started a couple of months ago at the Tokyo Motor Show when we unveiled the prototype of Toyota’s first fuel cell vehicle.
We also had it on display last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
And now we arrive in Detroit with more amazing Toyota and Lexus delights that will be featured over the next few days.
Of course, since this is just the start of the year, you can expect to hear a lot more news from us in the weeks and months to come.
We encourage you, our partners to reach out to us.
Let us know about any questions or requests any time you have them.
I can assure you we will do our very best to provide you with the information you need.
On that note, I’d like to call upon our Chairman, Ray, to offer a toast to all of you.
Good evening everyone. Bonne soir a tous.
We are very grateful that you have made the effort to join us here tonight.
In my remarks this evening, I’d like to start by giving you an overview of what we achieved in twenty-thirteen.
I will offer some brief comments on our sales results and key product successes.
Then I will speak to this year … 
Then some of the innovative ideas from Toyota…
And to wrap things up, I’d like to make a few quick points about an important issue for us – trade.
So let me begin with a quick look at the year that has just ended.
We finished two thousand and thirteen with a year-over-year sales increase and more thanone hundred ninety-five thousand vehicles sold.
For passenger cars, the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands combined are number-one on both a total sales basis and in retail sales.
We launched nine new or updated vehicles last year across those brands.  
At the top of the list was the RAV4 – our new Canadian-made SUV.
We started sales last February and we have seen a monthly sales record every month.
That’s eleven straight months.
Year-over-year sales are up more than twenty-five per cent and the RAV4 now holdseleven-point-three per cent of the compact SUV segment.
The new Tundra is also playing a major role in our portfolio of exceptional trucks.
It came out over the summer, hot on the heels of the RAV4.
Year-over-year sales since its launch are up by nearly 36 per cent.
And when you consider that the full-size pickup segment has become the second largest in Canada, we expect the two thousand fourteen Tundra will provide quite the boost to our truck sales.
And to further build our truck lineup, we are now launching the new Highlander. Watch this space as there will be more to come.
Last September, we had our most important launch of the year – the Corolla.
It’s the eleventh generation of the world’sbest-selling nameplate – with over forty millionsold globally and more than one-point three million sold in Canada.
That launch led to Corolla sales being up eight-point-seven per cent for the year …
And we expect this iconic car will continue to challenge for the number-one retail spot in Canada’s largest segment, compact, just like the refreshed Camry became #1 in the intermediate segment 2 years ago.
All of this success gives us quite the springboard into twenty-fourteen … as we look forward to rolling out even more winning products in key segments.
It’s a similar story for Lexus.
We had a major launch last year for Lexus, with the 2014 IS.
Thanks to the new IS, we had a sales increase of nearly forty-four per cent last year.
That helped us record our best year ever for Lexus sales in Canada of 15,949 units.
Based on a renewed design and performance focus, we introduced a new international brand direction for Lexus … expanding its appeal to ensure Lexus is as desired as it is respected.
For those of you attending the show tomorrow, the all-new Lexus RC F coupe will be unveiled.
The sexy RC F is designed for the enthusiast looking for an unparalleled driving experience.
Earlier this year, Lexus also announced the LF-NX, a turbo concept focusing on the growing and important compact premium crossover segment. 
Along with amazing products, we launched a global advertising campaign called Amazing in Motion.
Keep your eye on Lexus in 2014 …
The third thing I said I was going to talk to is innovation.
At Toyota Innovation is one of our key values.
That applies to the vehicles we are launching right now … as well as the new ideas and technologies that will pave the way for the longer-term future of mobility.
The intent of our innovation is to capture people’s imagination…
To give you a sense of the breadth and depth of Toyota innovation, I would like to draw your attention to some unique examples.
These demonstrate how we’re leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit to understand all the present and future needs of mobility.
Toyota is busy thinking about future technologies including  voice recognition, interactive language and camera technologies.
One unique way we are exploring these is Kirobo, named after the Japanese word for hope. He’s the world’s first communication robot, and the first robot to talk in space.
This speaks to what Toyota can do and how we approach exploring new frontiers.
Some of you have already seen or driven Toyota’s fuel cell technology and we recently confirmed that Toyota will bring fuel cell vehicles to selected global markets in 2015. This highlights a challenge to Toyota and the industry’s efforts to deploy new technologies.
One great benefit of our hybrid program is that the technology does not require any significant changes in driving habits, including using existing gas stations to refuel vehicles. While fuel cell vehicles offer range and drive benefits similar to or better than internal combustion vehicles, fueling infrastructure remains a barrier to the introduction of these promising new vehicles to Canada.
We have begun outreach to others in the industry to seek support for such an initiative.
Another hot area is autonomous vehicles.
You might think cars that can drive themselves are futuristic … but these capabilities have actually been around for quite a while.
Think about cruise control … anti-lock brakes … stability and traction control.
Each of these has been with us for a long time … we just don’t think of them as autonomous but that’s exactly what they are.
For fully autonomous vehicles, our approach is to develop technologies where the driver is always engaged, finding way to enhance driving skills.
Innovative thinking is also a big part of how we operate our business.
It fits into a bigger step forward in twenty-fourteen as we ramp up our Toyota New Global Architecture Platform.
We refer to it as TNGA.
It’s based on the philosophy of continuous improvement that has been a hallmark of Toyota for generations.
TNGA results in better planning … better styling … and better engineering …     
We’re using new  platforms and powertrains , combined with many globally universal parts and components in our manufacturing.
It will allow us to move much more quickly in making model changes to meet market demands …
And from an engine standpoint, it will make our continued focus on phenomenal  fuel economy vehicles a priority.
The most recent examples of our ability to innovate will be at the Toyota press event tomorrow and the RC F unveil on Tuesday.
While I am not at liberty to tell you what we’ll be unveiling at Toyota … I can tell you it will get your heart pumping and adrenaline racing.  It is the true spirit of waku doki.  Have your pens and cameras ready.
To conclude my remarks, I want to briefly provide an update on one final topic we feel very strongly about.
Over the past year, Canada has participated in a number of high profile trade negotiations and has achieved a ground-breaking agreement in principle for free trade with Europe. It also seems likely that an announcement about a tentative agreement between Canada and Korea will soon be made. Let me be clear about Toyota’s views on trade.
We support global, multilateral free trade. And we think that the industry and consumers would both benefit from global technical standards.
However, it would be unfortunate if Japanese companies were excluded from the benefits of free trade with Canada – particularly since Japan imposes no tariffs on vehicles imported to Japan from Canada or other countries. Especially given that unlike their counterparts from Europe and Korea, Japanese companies have significant manufacturing infrastructure on the ground in Canada. In a highly competitive consumer facing sector, we cannot afford to bear a 6.1% disadvantage and Canadian consumers will not understand why they are being asked to pay those costs.
I should also note that Canada is currently moving away from global technical standards in an effort to align more closely with the United States. This will have the perhaps unintentional result of raising new non-tariff barriers to trade even as Canada advances it's free trade agenda. 
We are a willing partner in the effort to provide an open marketplace along with the benefits of advanced, modern product standards.  We will continue to work with Canadian trade negotiators and regulators in 2014 to ensure that this project is not left half done with all of the negative consequences that might result. 
Toyota has been committed to Canada for fifty years and we look forward to another fifty years.
All our associates, dealers and partners are extremely excited about what is on the horizon.
We remain committed to building a stronger auto industry in Canada.
Thank you.
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