In recent years, Toyota has been the clear number one in the world in the production of cars. It used to be different in the Czech Republic for years: ten years ago it sold only 300 cars a month, it was in the second ten. In September 2023, however, it was already the second brand after Škoda, rising to 1,500 cars sold per month.

What happened in the connection between the Czech Republic and Toyota?

I admit that I mainly carry the year 2015 in my head, when we were only seventeen. Today, I wouldn’t even be able to list all sixteen brands that were before us. We didn’t even have two percent of the market, we didn’t reach five thousand cars in the whole year. what happened There are too many of those things. We changed the approach in almost everything possible. A strong impetus was the creation of a group to which we in the Czech Republic belong, as well as Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Then the development of technology: today Toyota has full battery cars, hydrogen cars, it is strong in hybrid. The Czech customer is already very used to it, it accounts for 70% of our sales.

Did covid help you too? Most brands lacked cars, but you had them.

In a way, too. It was a turbulent time, it stirred up the entire car industry. We were one of the few brands that could manage. Therefore, we did not experience stagnation, but still started to go up.

Toyota is working on another sports car for enthusiastic drivers.  It will have a classic manual with three pedals

You produce two models in the Czech Republic: Aygo X and Yaris. Does this help too?

We don’t play it. We are not saying that these are Czech cars. We are a global car company. But of course, as a Czech, I am proud of the trust that came from Toyota. It shows the Czech expertise, knowledge, work ethic and overall ability to deal with such a complex organism as a manufacturing plant.

Aygo X and Yaris are representatives of a segment from which many brands are leaving. Because the standards they have to meet make them more expensive, and the time when these cars cost less than 200,000 is irretrievably gone. How hard is it to keep them for you?

It is not simple, but it is a ticket to the world of Toyota. For many, this is the first car that people have experienced. It is very good that we are still in the smallest segment.

Logically, these cars should be models for electromobility. And that’s not the case. What is it?

Very good question! I personally think that this is where electromobility should start. But then the world would have to approach her completely differently. It is a fully battery small car that will serve its purpose much better for me and will not have excessive ambitions to go seven hundred kilometers on a single charge. It would then be extremely difficult and expensive. It makes no sense to sell a model that today costs CZK 300,000 with gasoline for CZK 600,000. But I can imagine that if it has small batteries, a range of a hundred kilometers, and therefore a lower price, it will be used for daily transportation to work and shopping. It will be perfectly functional with all the advantages of an electric car: zero emissions, great dynamics and the ability to meet the needs of the user.

Toyota has launched pre-sales of the new Land Cruiser in the Czech Republic.  And straight away with a limited edition

A big topic is the hydrogen car. You’ve been offering it for a while now, it’s called Mirai. What is it for the Czechs?

I would say such a big division. And in a way, an irritant that polarizes society. Mainly the professional one, but also the public one.

In what sense?

That there may be another world than the one we encounter every day. And that is the effort to move to fully battery cars that are recharged from a socket. Hydrogen is an alternative, fully functional, viable and slowly but surely coming to light. However, it must be said, he is way ahead in his own way. I see a parallel there with the hybrid of decades ago. When we came with it, it was an exotic car. People kept their distance from him, but in the end a strong core was formed, which gathered more customers. In this I see a parallel with hydrogen today: here again we have a car that evokes a lot of emotions. But it is not a religion. It’s just technology. The ponds of supporters and detractors will overflow the moment they experience this car. He finds out how it works and realizes the main principle: that it produces energy by combining oxygen and hydrogen. He will find a place in the sun, but it will take some time.

How much have you driven it?

I always try to sit in it when it’s free. I still enjoy it, I’ve driven several dozen tanks with it.

Mirai is an emotional car, but more so than your models. At the same time, Toyota used to be a conservative brand. Is it necessary for new technologies to go hand in hand with design as if from space?

Taking new technology and combining it with something that draws attention in terms of design simply works.

The new Toyota Land Cruiser 76 brings a better drive, but also a major disadvantage.  He has a very noble intention

The big topic of recent months is the bargaining for Euro 7. Toyota is prepared for it against others, but at the same time you have many reservations. Where can it go?

The Euro 7 is a topic for a whole conversation. I don’t have a problem with the content, but with its implementation. Because it is completely inconsistent with how the car industry works. Due to Euro 7, many car companies will abandon the traditional models, rather than make rash or senseless investments in their improvements, which, although they will meet the standard, will be absolutely unprofitable and will become a big problem for the car company itself. Although it is possible to postpone the validity in time, the deadline is still too close and at the same time it is starting to collide with the deadline for the end of the production of internal combustion cars. Those who are interested know that it’s not all about emissions.

You mention the end of combustion engines in 2035. You drive on hydrogen, you drive on electricity. Still: can we say that petrol cars have never been as clean as they are now? Aren’t you sorry that the pond is closing over them?

Yippee. I even dare to say that if gasoline cars were allowed to work even after 2035, they would be even cleaner. Because it would continue to evolve. With this decision, development will be cut short. But the fact that the production of conventional engines is to end in 2035, of course, does not mean that their use will end. So, paradoxically, we may end up in a situation where from 2035 on into the future we will still have too high an emission footprint, because in 2050 people will be driving cars with combustion engine technology from 2023. Because a great gasoline engine with new options in 2035 in at that time no one will develop anymore, even if I would like to.

And what will the most cars drive in 2050?

Definitely for electricity. It’s a matter of what form it will get into the cars. From the network? Hydrogen? From another source we don’t yet know? They can also be synthetic fuels. I would not close the door to any technology. The enemy in all of this is now emissions, not technology.