Toyota President Looks Forward during End-of-Year Conference

Akio Toyoda plans to "redesign" the automaker as a mobility company.

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda Attends Earnings News Conference
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Toyota held a conference Wednesday looking back on the last fiscal year, which ended on March 31. As part of the event, president Akio Toyoda made a few remarks outlining where he would take the company in 2018, and beyond.

Toyoda's first big focus was on lowering production costs. In the 20th century, Toyota set the standard for efficient manufacturing by introducing "lean" techniques into its production plants. The president implied that its production rate may have slipped below that standard.

"Keeping an eye on costs means keeping an eye on what we do. Each and every person, armed with an awareness of costs and a grasp of current market levels, must thoroughly eliminate waste in their daily actions," he said. "What used to be the norm had somewhere along the way ceased to be so... We have begun steady cost-reduction efforts in which each and every cost, whether it relates to daily tasks or large events or projects, is being scrutinized, with everyone thinking about what elements actually represent waste."

President Toyoda continued by addressing competition on the tech front, whether they're companies that are developing electric vehicles, autonomous technology, or mobility services. 

"The automotive industry is now hurtling into an era of profound transformation, the likes of which come only once every 100 years. With even our rivals and the rules of competition also changing, a life-or-death battle has begun in a world of unknowns..." he said. "My thinking is that the more we advance new technologies, such as those related to electrification, automated operation, and connectivity, the broader the potential of automobiles will become. This will lead to an era in which Toyota's strengths can be more fully employed."

Toyoda delved deeper into future ventures, stating that he plans to "redesign" Toyota from being a car-maker to a mobility company that "provides services related to movement for people around the world." These would most likely include services such as car rentals, ride-hailing, and mass transit.

In addition to the president's remarks, Toyota posted strong annual earnings, with net income up more than 36 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. Investor reaction to the conference has been positive, and Toyota's Tokyo exchange stock rose nearly 4 percent by the market's closing.