JANUARY 10, 2005
Toyota boss offers gentle warning
Toyota has one chairman, two vice chairmen, one president, six executive vice presidents and 14 senior managing directors and at times it all seems to be rather complicated as to who is important and who is not important. However, in June last year there was a significant change when executive vice-president Akihiko Saito handed over his responsibility for the motor sport division to senior managing director Tetsuo Hattori. Dr Saito remains a significant figure however and at the weekend he met with Japanese journalists and briefed them about the company's Formula 1 activities. He made it clear that in 2005 Toyota wants results after three years during which huge amounts of money have been invested in Panasonic Toyota Racing's programme.
"Formula 1 has been harder than we expected," Saito explained. "But that just means that it is a challenge which is worthy of our attentions. However, we cannot afford to keep going without getting better results. We have simply invested too much money."
Toyota is doing very well around the world. It is doing so well in the United States, for example, that it is now battling Ford to become the world's second largest automobile manufacturer and the aim is catch and pass General Motors. Toyota boss Fujio Cho has set Toyota the goal of taking a 15% share of the global market within the next 10 years, while GM has seen its share drop to 14.5% in 2004.
The Americans are obviously worried because at the North American International Auto Show GM boss Rick Wagoner told reporters that "We been ahead for 73 years in a row, and I think the betting odds are we'll be ahead for the next 73 years."
Toyota wants to use F1 to boost its sales around the world but not at any price.
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