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Toyota bullish on hydrogen investment

New cross-industry council to pave way, chairman says

Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Setting an investment target by automakers and energy companies could help spur spending on hydrogen-related technologies, Toyota Motor's chairman said Wednesday, referring to the role of a new group formed to promote the no-emissions energy source.

Takeshi Uchiyamada told The Nikkei that he sees great promise for the Hydrogen Council, a body of 13 companies including Toyota and Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell that was launched at this year's forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Q: What are the aims of the Hydrogen Council? 

A: The council was established in response to calls from France's Air Liquide. Details on what the council will do still need to be discussed, since it was just set up. We plan to begin calling on governments to set up infrastructure, and will work toward increasing awareness. 

Member companies are aware of the challenges of trying to single-handedly expand the use of hydrogen. Since we believe having more players in the field is beneficial, we disclosed our patents related to the technology. Although companies may want to push their own technologies in creating regulations and standards, at the moment, concessions will take place for the bigger goal.

Q: In addition to fuel cell and hybrid cars, Toyota is developing electric vehicles. How does the company balance those efforts?

A: The vehicles share many common technologies such as motors, batteries and air conditioners. Since we were leading in hybrid vehicles, we do not have to develop our technology from zero.

Q: What are your thoughts on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of Toyota's plant in Mexico?

A: Overseas plants will be maintained as local units. Mr. Trump wishes to strengthen American industry and boost employment, and our company also shares that vision. We have no intention to move or shut down any factories in the U.S. But perhaps there was confusion, because other companies were closing their American production bases.

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