“It has always been our ambition to go above and beyond and take care of other important aspects of the environment and that is why Beyond Zero is not just about communication, but is our basic mindset.”
Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, producing about 10 million vehicles per year. In an interview with The FINANCIAL, Irakli Lekishvili, Head of the Corporate and Sales Division of Toyota Caucasus, talked about Toyotas global vision, innovations and projects. He also shared with us Toyota Caucasus’s contribution to the development of green business in the country.
Q. In your last interview with The FINANCIAL you spoke about Toyota’s goal for 2050. What are Toyota’s current green initiatives and practices?
A. Thank you very much for your interest in Toyota Caucasus again this year. Various environmental challenges are rapidly threatening ecosystems and societies globally. Major interventions and strategic approaches are required to minimise harm and to avoid reaching catastrophic stages. Last year we actively discussed our goal for 2050 which was introduced in 2015 and comprises various challenges to improve the environment around us. Today we would like to share our vision to go beyond expectations, via the Beyond Zero philosophy which has been prioritised for a while now.
Q. What is Beyond Zero?
A. Beyond Zero is Toyota’s global commitment to contribute to a world beyond emissions and beyond restrictions. A world where we leave nothing and no one behind, and where people experience the freedom to move, supported by Toyota’s leading electrification technology and mobility innovations, matched with memorable customer experiences. It isn’t the final destination, but only a step in the journey that started more than 20 years ago with the introduction of hybrid technology.
Q. How do you see the world from the Beyond Zero perspective?
A. Toyota has always seen the world a little differently. Where others might see barriers and obstacles, we see opportunity. That’s why we have pioneered the journey towards zero emissions, although for us that’s only the start. We want to go beyond. From cities powered only by clean hydrogen to mobility solutions that benefit everyone, we’re striving to create a more inclusive and sustainable world and society; a better world. Toyota has even revealed plans to build a prototype ‘city’ of the future on a 175-acre site at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. It will be a fully connected ecosystem powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Envisioned as a ‘living laboratory’, the Woven City will serve as a home to full-time residents and researchers who will be able to test and develop technologies such as autonomy, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence (AI) in a real-world environment to become the showpiece of a hydrogen society. With the Beyond Zero perspective we strive for a world which is full of innovative solutions, connectivity and high technologies for a better and cleaner environment.
Q. What are the main challenges you see in promoting the Beyond Zero philosophy in Georgia?
A. A significant step has been made in Georgia within the framework of the EU Association Agreement. Regulations have come into force that will help revive our environmental philosophies. Toyota Caucasus actively cooperates with all the environmental agencies, both legislative and private structures, to provide maximum coordination and effort to cover all aspects to implement Beyond Zero.
In general, I am sure you will agree that the environment in Georgia is quite challenging, as our country is beginning to set foot in this direction just now. Achieving environmental and economic sustainability is not without a challenge. There are a number of issues surrounding this delicate balance between preserving our ecosystem while achieving a high quality of life.
Our biggest challenge is to raise societal awareness about the significance of environmental safety, so that every citizen feels responsible for themselves and future generations.
Q. What are Toyota’s plans for the future in terms of developing a green business and making a contribution to its development globally?
A. We continue our efforts towards a better world, tackling global environmental challenges via six bold steps to becoming more sustainable. The first three steps are getting us to carbon neutral and the remaining three to Beyond Zero. It’s always been our ambition to go above and beyond and take care of other important aspects of the environment and that is why Beyond Zero is not just about communication, but is our basic mindset. We want to be the leading region in achieving carbon neutrality – and to reach this goal ten years in advance of the Global Toyota Environmental Challenge – 2050.
Q. In your last interview we spoke about the Toyota Caucasus strategy for offering eco-friendly cars to local customers. Which models will you offer to your customers in the future and what will distinguish them in terms of the benefits they can provide to the environment?
A. To continue implementing last year’s activities, we are constantly increasing the introduction of ‘electrified powertrain’ models to our customers. The line-up of our hybrid electric vehicles is already the widest and as a next step (and in consideration of the local infrastructure and our customers’ convenience) we plan to introduce the most popular plug-in hybrid models such as the Rav4 PHEV, Prius PHEV, and Toyota C-HR PHEV. This technology will certainly contribute to improving the environmental conditions in Georgia and we believe switching to HEV technologies is the first, but essential, step for achieving eco sustainability in the region.
Q. Have purchases of electrified powertrain vehicles increased compared to in previous years?
A. Yes, in the field of hybrid and the plug-in ‘world’ Georgia is indeed the leader in the region, and figures are increasing from year to year. We believe this trend will continue to grow as sustainability is at the centre of everything we do. We focus on creating ever-improved cars that will let people live cleaner, safer and more connected lives. Globally, we strive to develop future mobility solutions that connect people, vehicles and cities in order to substantially reduce people’s environmental footprint, and (even if it may not be in the very near future) we believe this will also become a reality for our country.