Dr. Johan van Zyl - Toyota: "Valenciennes remains our n ° 1 factory"

Dr. Johan van Zyl - Toyota: "Valenciennes remains our n ° 1 factory"

Violet Field inHigh TechFeb 22, 2021 4 min read0 views

The South African boss of Toyota Europe looks back on a turbulent 2020 and the ambitious objectives of the Japanese brand in the medium term.

The South African boss of Toyota Europe looks back on a turbulent 2020 and the ambitious goals of the Japanese brand in the medium term.

© Provided by Auto Moto Photo: Toyota

The South African boss of Toyota Europe looks back on a turbulent 2020 and the ambitious objectives of the Japanese brand in the medium term.

The year 2020 was marked by the irruption of the Covid-19. What were the main emergencies for you?

When we entered the first phase of containment, we had not yet finished producing the old Yaris (in the Valenciennes plant, editor's note). We were forced to stock a large quantity of these vehicles before we could start assembling the new one. The old ones were sold well and we managed to launch the new model - with a few weeks delay - but without a hitch ... We used the government aid mechanisms and we maintained employment and wages: we We therefore quickly recovered our industrial capacities and our sales. This period was very delicate!

What are the first feedbacks you have on the new Yaris?

Very good. We managed to beat our record of orders over one month for a new vehicle in Europe.

Will the new Yaris Cross succeed in competing with the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, which dominate the segment in Europe?

I think our proposal is very strong. We have a spacious, well-designed product and above all it offers the hybrid. Obviously, we will be in a position to fight. I wouldn't give you figures, but our ambitions are strong.

Toyota is now the sole owner of the Kolín plant in the Czech Republic *. Does this change the position of your French site in Onnaing, near Valenciennes?

No, TMMF Valenciennes remains our number 1 site in Europe. He will continue to produce the Yaris and will also assemble the Yaris Cross (production will be shared between the two factories, note). We fully intend to run it to its full potential. There will be no major impact for Valenciennes. We only had to redeploy our assembly to best serve the European market.

You have a good market share in the small car niche with the Aygo. Most manufacturers are withdrawing from this segment for lack of profitability. Are you going to persist?

Yes. The Aygo is selling well and we believe there is still space for this type of vehicle. It will always be the case tomorrow. But it is certain that by 2030, electricity will be a prerequisite.

You plan to go from 1 million to 1.4 million cars registered in Europe by 2025. What will your recipe be?

Our offer on segments B and C is good (with Yaris, Yaris Cross and Corolla, editor's note). It is also certain that interest in SUVs will not wane. By then we will also be able to offer a full choice of technologies in each segment with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, 100% electric and even hydrogen with Mirai. Beyond that, we will continue to focus on the quality of the relationship with customers, in particular by supporting new uses of mobility with Kinto, our new brand of services. We assemble bricks to progress in each area.

Are you ready to cut corners to sell more cars?

No, obviously (laughs, editor's note)! I have always said that in Europe, we are not chasing volumes. We want to build a strong business with long-term goals.

Lexus has doubled its sales in Europe in seven years. But your premium brand remains small compared to the German giants. What do you plan to do to develop it?

We are satisfied with our growth: Lexus is our luxury brand and aims to remain so. We intend to build on our achievements: good resale value, premium customer experience and excellent products ... We do not intend to make it a high volume manufacturer, but rather the ambition to maintain profits for us as for our network.

* This assembly plant was previously shared with the PSA group and produced the Peugeot 108, Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo.

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