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Toyota has delivered its 400,000th hybrid in Europe, marking a huge milestone for the Japanese automaker. Their entrance into the European hybrid market began back in 2000, and since then there has been three generations of their popular Prius and more recently, the Auris Hybrid in 2010.
The 400,000th hybrid delivered in Europe was an Auris Hybrid and was sold as a company car to CTG, an IT consulting agency. The company recently ordered a fleet of 20 Auris Hybrids.
“We are very proud to deliver our 400,000th hybrid in Europe to a customer in Belgium where we have a strong presence with our European headquarters, our R&D centre, our parts and vehicle logistics operations,” said Michel Gardel, Vice President of Communication, External and Environmental Affairs at Toyota Motor Europe. “It shows that Belgian and European customers are not only ready to consider a hybrid vehicle purchase but for Toyota, they have been doing so in large numbers – in fact 10% of our sales in Europe were hybrid vehicles last year,” he added.
And even though it’s quite the achievement for Toyota, putting it into perspective shows just how much more accepting Americans are of hybrids than Europeans. Last year alone, Toyota sold 150,000 hybrids in the United States; so for the automaker to take 12 years to hit the 400,000th mark in Europe proves that Europeans still prefer diesels over hybrids.
To make room for expanding model research and development on the home front, Toyota Motor Corp has appointed its European division to lead global product planning for small cars.
Vested with this major responsibility, extensive reorganization in Toyota Europe’s sales and marketing operations were put to effect in hopes to best approach the new mission. According to Toyota Motor Europe CEO Didier Leroy, “It is essential to bring focus to this mission and the product planning division will play a key role in this integrated strategy, together with our designers.”
Alain Uyttenhoven, head of product planning and marketing, will shift his responsibilities to focus on product planning specifically and will be in charge of overseeing the global potential of the future Aygo minicar, Yaris/Vitz subcompact, as well as the Auris/Corolla compact.
Taking Uyttenhoven’s old marketing duties is Daniele Schillaci of Toyota-France. Schillaci’s new role as Toyota’s general manager of sales and marketing, according to Didier Leroy, will allow Toyota, “… to respond in the fastest and most efficient way to market volatility and changes in customers’ expectations.”
To replace Daniele Schillaci’s former role as Toyota France CEO is Pascal Ruch, who currently holds station as Toyota’s general manager of sales and production efficiency in European distribution.
Finally, Miguel Fonseca will become the vice president of business integration. While this is a major managerial shift within Toyota, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler rely on its European operations to develop future products in the minicar, subcompact and compact segments as well.
[Source: Automotive News]