‘Having technology not enough in car business’: Toyota President warns Apple

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota, is not concerned about Apple's entry into the car market

Akio Toyoda, President of the world’s top automobile seller Toyota Motor, offered a warning to US-based tech company Apple, which is planning an entry into the auto industry.

“There’s more to the business of selling cars than just having the technology to produce them,” he told Apple.

The automotive industry welcomes new entrants, “but after making a vehicle, I’d like them to be prepared to deal with customers and various changes for some 40 years,” Mr. Toyoda said at a news conference held by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, where he is the chairman.

Apple’s entry

Although it will probably take Apple at least half a decade to launch its planned autonomous, electric vehicle, the technology giant has been creating waves within the car industry recently as it approaches a wide range of automakers that are seen as potential contenders for a vehicle partnership.

The company’s entry into the car market has sparked fear among some legacy automakers concerned about the potential disruptiveness of an Apple-branded vehicle. These concerns may be one of the reasons discussions between Apple and some firms have apparently not worked out in recent months, with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor and others backtracking after saying they were in talks.

Not concerned

Japan’s Toyota and Germany-based Volkswagen, also the second largest automaker, appear less concerned.

Earlier, Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess said that he wasn’t afraid of Apple’s entry. The car sector is different from the technology industry, and Apple “won’t manage to take it over overnight,” he said.

New tech firms joining “have the potential to breathe new life into the auto industry and give customers a wider range of choices,” Mr. Toyoda said. But their entry needs to be “fair” to consumers, in that they need to be prepared to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their vehicles, from maintenance to eventual scrapping, he said.

This isn’t the first time Toyoda has been dismissive of new entrants. In a briefing in November last year, Toyoda said that Elon Musk’s US-based electric car maker Tesla isn’t making “real products.”

Tesla, which overtook Toyota as the world’s most valuable automaker last year, may be winning in terms of market value, Mr. Toyoda said. But Toyota has what Tesla doesn’t, which is experience making more than 100 million cars.

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