4:31pm

Thu December 15, 2011
Business and the Economy

Toyota's Near Term Goals

The President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky says the automaker could introduce 20 new products between now and the end of 20-13.   A great deal of the new technology centers on safety.  Toyota executive Wil James told Lexington Rotarians the Japanese automaker spends one million dollars per hour on research and development.  And much of the money is spent on safety improvements.  For example, James says they may be able to reduce drowsy driving accidents by installing eye monitors in the dashboards of some Toyota vehicles.

“Quite simply what the technology does is look at the eyes of the driver monitors the driver and if you get a little dozy and you close your eyes it will beep and wake you up and keep you alert,” said James.

With the number of vehicles sold in this country gradually increasing, so is confidence in future employment.  James says about 19-thousand people work at their Scott county plant, the Erlanger headquarters, and at suppliers. 

“I see no need for us, at this point, to fear the major loss of any jobs,  as I mentioned the auto industry at peak was 17 million… dropped down to eight and a half, now it’s 13…we can see 15 million over the next few years,  so I think the opportunity is just to go back up,” added James.

Toyota recently began exporting Camry sedans, the hallmark of their Georgetown plant, to South Korea.  James says several foreign markets are also on the Japanese automaker’s radar…

“There are a number of countries that we’re having active discussions about…right now in Japan with the yen being so strong…it basically behooves us to move where the opportunities present itself to move some product out of Japan into other regions,” said James.

Some of production will include electrical vehicles.  James says work continues on new battery technology and re-charging infrastructure.