“Helping to reduce the environmental impacts of our products and operations is a priority for Toyota. Green technology has been the focus of our innovation for decades. When we launched the Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car, we reduced CO2 emissions by over 100 million tonnes. We believe there is no single approach to creating the ultimate eco-car.”
Toyota is one of the largest auto companies in the world, leading the market with its products and innovative approaches. It operates successfully in the Caucasus region and is constantly focused on delivering quality products to customers. Toyota cares about integrating environmental issues into the business; in this regard it has carried out significant activities.
In an interview with The FINANCIAL, Koji Matsuno, President of Toyota Caucasus, talks about the importance of green business development in Georgia and Toyota Caucasus’s achievements in this regard.
Q. Can you describe Toyota Caucasus’s green initiative and practise?
A. First of all thank you very much for showing interest in Toyota and its environmental goals. We believe it is of the utmost importance for all industries to unite to fight the aftermath of disasters taking place throughout the world, which are mainly caused by humans being careless. Considering this, environmental issues have become one of the top priorities for Toyota Motor Corporation. “Respect for the Planet” is our basic philosophy, and based on it in 2015 we formulated the Environmental Challenge 2050.
Q. In what ways are you incorporating social and environmental practices into your business?
A. In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This provides a shared blueprint to deliver peace and prosperity for humanity and the planet both now and into the future.
At its heart, are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs), which represent a universal commitment by all countries and stakeholders to act in a collaborative way and to take urgent action. These goals balance the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development and recognize that to end poverty, hunger, and to fight inequality. This focus on sustainable development however, is not new to Toyota. The establishment of a long-term vision and the consideration of all stakeholders (that’s our employees, customers, partners in the value chain and the community) have been included in our principles and values since the company was first established.
A commitment to sustainable development is therefore embedded in our DNA and is visible in every aspect of our business operations and strategy, where the Environment is the top priority area of social contribution activities for Toyota. Environmental education and support for environmental programmes is one of our major goals. Toyota Caucasus will continue to position maintenance of environmental infrastructure as one of its core values and continue contribution to the preservation of it.
Q. As one of the main auto services companies in Georgia, how would you evaluate the technical condition of cars in Georgia? What are the main problems?
A. Indeed, we monitor the auto park in Georgia and the main issue is actually its age: only 8% of UIO is below 10 years and almost 50% of total cars on the roads are more than 20 years old. Considering all economic and social circumstances in the country though, we do understand the reason behind this. However, on the other hand we all realize that the aged cars imported into the country cause quite a few issues from a safety and ecology point of view. As far as we know though there are some movements from the authorities intended to change this tendency (by applying some incentives, considering new regulations, etc) which of course will influence the overall situation in a positive way.
Q. What is Toyota Caucasus’ strategy in terms of offering eco-friendly cars to local customers?
A. At Toyota our global stance is to offer our customers the right product at the right time as we believe this approach is most efficient in achieving our ultimate goal and contributing to green society. Starting from the first Hybrid introduced in 1997, Toyota is working hard on developing new technologies in different powertrains and today a wide range of electrified technology such as fully hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles are already in our global line-up. However, we are carefully studying what product is most relevant to the local market and its infrastructure and are considering offering our customers all available technologies gradually. At the moment we are working on offering a full range of HEV vehicles available in our line up and introducing plug-in and electric as a next step. In Georgia we succeeded already in having the widest HEV choice: Corolla HEV; Prius; Camry HEV; C-HR HEV; RAV4 HEV; Highlander HEV. In the near future we will also introduce the Yaris Cross HEV which will be our first HEV vehicle in the B-SUV segment. We do believe switching to HEV technologies is the first but very essential step for eco sustainability in the region.
Q. What are your main achievements in green business development in 2019/2021?
A. 2020 has affected all of us because of Covid. But 2020 is also potentially the starting point of an environmental revolution. Global warming – with the continuous rise of registered temperatures – 2020 holding the sad record of being the warmest year ever registered, climate disasters – like the Australian bushfires last January and the Covid-19 pandemic, have been largely seen by the community as a potential rehearsal toward a much bigger crisis if no actions are taken towards climate change.
At Toyota, we had already declared our long-term ambition towards the environment back in 2015. The Toyota Environmental Challenge has 6 clearly defined ambitions towards a future which is fully respecting the environment. Our everyday efforts are and will be addressed to sustain the direction and do more every day towards reducing human negative impact.
Q. How do the environmental challenges fit into Toyota’s long-term philosophy?
A. In light of mounting global environmental issues, Toyota announced the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 in October 2015. Based on the six challenges, we are taking measures with the aim of achieving zero CO2 emissions and a net positive environmental impact, and will contribute to the realization of a sustainable society emphasizing the importance of “Respect for the Planet” under Toyota Global Vision announced in 2011.
Q. How does Toyota Caucasus engage its employees to think and act upon sustainability?
A. Each Toyota representation in the region has a designated Environmental Manager. Environmental managers make sure to keep in line all environmental requirements either legislative or internal. For the 6th year already Toyota Caucasus maintains ISO 140001 certification. Toyota systematically conducts training of its staff to keep them updated on the environmental requirements, keep track of the waste and its proper utilization including in Retailer Network, where all types of hazardous wastes are properly handled by respective companies.
Q. What do you think you can do in the short and medium term to add to the field of green business?
A. Sustainability is at the centre of everything we do. We focus on creating ever better cars that let people live cleaner, safer, less stressful and more connected lives. We strive to develop future mobility solutions that connect people, vehicles and the city in order to substantially reduce congestion and pollution. We want to operate a business that is profitable, sustainable and a great place to work.
Q. What are the main projects that you have implemented in this direction?
A. Helping to reduce the environmental impacts of our products and operations is a priority for Toyota. Green technology has been the focus of our innovation for decades. When we launched the Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car, we reduced CO2 emissions by over 100 million tonnes. We believe there is no single approach to creating the ultimate eco-car.
That is why, alongside hybrid electric vehicles, we develop plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. We focus on zero impact on the environment, at every stage of a vehicle’s lifecycle. We innovatively manage vehicles at the end of their life, ensuring that almost all their materials are reduced, reused, recycled and recovered.
Dive into our environmental story and discover what we have done, what we are doing and what we plan to do to achieve harmony between people, products and the planet.
Q. How would you evaluate the overall ‘green business’ situation in Georgia?
A. Georgia recently introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the national Waste Management Code. Under EPR, producers take over the responsibility for preventing, collecting, separating and treating used products (waste) for their eventual recovery. This is an environmental policy approach which reduces the negative impact on the environment.
Toyota Caucasus welcomes the initiative and believes that the regulation will support our intention of implementing environmental activities and introducing effective mechanisms to reduce adverse environmental effects.