Toyota president Akio Toyoda has said he feels a “strong sense of crisis” about the firm’s car making process after the Japanese company's profits fell last year.
The Toyota Motor Corporation’s net income fell to ¥1.83 trillion (£12.4 billion) for the fiscal year ending in March 2017, down from ¥2.3tn (£15.5bn) in the previous 12 months. It is the first time in five years that Toyota's profits have fallen.
Toyota actually sold more cars in the last fiscal year – 8,970,860, a rise of 289,532 from the previous period – and cited the strength of the Japanese yen as a major factor behind the fall in profits. Toyota warned it expected profits to drop to ¥1.5tn (£10.1bn) for the 2018 financial year as a result.
While citing the impact of currency markets on Toyota’s profits, Toyoda promised that the results would prompt the firm to “take a critical look at our true selves and strive to improve our competitiveness”.
Toyota was recently overtaken by the Volkswagen Group as the largest producer of cars in the world.
The firm has invested heavily in upgrading facilities around the world to accommodate the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) car platform. The platform is already used on cars including the Prius Plug-in and C-HR.
While Toyoda praised the firm’s drive to make more advanced cars, he questioned whether the firm’s car-making process focused enough on customers. He said: “Until now, there were times when Toyota’s cars were called ‘boring’ or were said to be lacking in character. But I now feel that, in terms of driving and design, our customers have begun to favourably evaluate our cars.
“On the other hand, when it comes to making ever-better cars in a smart way, it is becoming apparent that there is still room for improvement.
“I feel a strong sense of crisis about whether or not we are actually executing car-making from the perspective of the customer in all Toyota workplaces – from development, production, procurement and sales, all the way to administrative divisions.”