Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
2008 Sequoia World Premiere & ALCAN Highlander FCHV Announcement
November 14, 2007
Los Angeles Auto Show
Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.
We are very happy to be here today to stage the world premiere of the second-generation, 2008 Sequoia…and to update you on a significant achievement regarding our ongoing hydrogen-hybrid fuel-cell development program.
We'll begin our program today with the most obvious.
Last September, Toyota engineers successfully drove a test-vehicle powered by a next-generation hybrid fuel-cell system from Osaka, Japan to Tokyo on a single 70 MPa-tank of compressed hydrogen gas. The vehicle was driven on public highways covering the distance of 348 miles with sufficient fuel remaining in the tank to cover an additional 137 miles.
The point of the drive was to demonstrate the new, extended-range capabilities of a next-generation fuel-cell stack under normal everyday driving conditions. Equally important, was to show how the development of hydrogen fuel-cell power-trains continues to move forward and mature at an impressive pace far in advance of an infrastructure that will be necessary to support them.
When our Torrance-based product planners and engineers heard about TMC's plans for its run from Osaka to Tokyo they thought it was a great idea that probably didn't go far enough in showing how far this new system has advanced.
Traveling a distance of more than 300 miles was a significant goal because it is considered a typical and acceptable range for most gasoline powered vehicles on the road today.
However, beyond the range capability, this new system was developed to deal with two major challenges to the refinement of fuel-cell power-trains. That is:
• starting and operating in cold temperatures…
• and standing up to the vibration and harshness of rough road conditions over a long distance….over a long time
Our Torrance-based group informed TMC that they planned to demonstrate the reliability and durability, the cold-weather operation, and the extended range of the new system by driving from Fairbanks, Alaska…to Vancouver, British Columbia… 2300 miles in seven days along the Alaska Highway.
Every mile of the journey was monitored in real-time by a lap-top program that measured distance, time, speed, hydrogen tank fuel temperature and fuel-consumption. The entire trip was shot in high-def video. And to verify and chronicle the achievement, we invited Road & Track engineering editor Dennis Simanaitis to come along as referee and co-driver.
One of the key reasons why engineers chose the route from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Vancouver is that Canada allows mobile high-pressure re-fueling of hydrogen vehicles along its public highways. The U.S. does not.
Without a network of gas-and-go-quickie-marts with hydrogen pumps every 300 miles mobile re-fueling was a necessity. Two companies were enlisted to assist. Linde provided the rolling supply of hydrogen, while Powertech Labs supplied a self-contained re-fueling station. Mounted on two separate flat-bed trucks, the refueling team moved in advance of the Highlander FCHV, setting up shop at pre-determined intervals while a pair of Tundras followed as support vehicles should anything major go wrong.
As you have already guessed, nothing did. The first leg of the drive was the most suspenseful. The caravan needed to travel 316 miles from Fairbanks to Beaver Creek, across the Canadian border in order to legally re-fuel in the truck-stop parking-lot of Buckshot Betty's Motel, their accommodations for the night.
On the second and third days from Beaver Creek to White Horse, then from White Horse to Muncho Lake, the group covered the most remote sections of the Yukon Territory. With it came the roughest patches of highway, the coldest weather, and the most numerous encounters with herds of elk, goat and caribou, often slowing the pace to a crawl.
Whether sharing the road with an unimpressed group of buffalo or sailing along a vast open stretch of Tundra at 90-miles an hour, the Highlander FCHV performed without a glitch for seven days and 2,300 miles.
TMC engineering was at first reluctant to agree to subject our Torrance-based prototype to such a severe test. One man had faith in our plan because he had faith in his vehicle. And he was the one that mattered most.
One week before the Osaka-to-Tokyo run, Chief Engineer, Yoshimasa Ishiguro flew to the Yukon to take part in our ALCAN program. And he is with us today. Ladies and gentlemen, Highlander FCHV chief engineer Ishiguro. Thanks for your support and thanks for joining us today.
With any new technology everyone would like to be first to market, including us. But Toyota believes it is more important to be best in market.
Most importantly, it is critical that the 10 years of equity we have built-up in consumer confidence with hybrids is not diminished as we roll-out other forms of advanced technology.
The ALCAN Highway project is an example of how Toyota goes about its business of advanced vehicle development. As with the first Prius more than 10 years ago and each of the more than a million hybrids we have sold since, our fuel-cell program has been entirely an in-house initiative.
Doing so is expensive and time-consuming in the beginning. But it ensures that we have a direct line to all phases of R&D. In the end, we believe it gives us a higher quality, more reliable, and more affordable product. Here's another recent example.
Five days ago, we delivered the first-two factory-developed Prius plug-in hybrid vehicles to the University of California Berkeley and the University of California, Irvine. The universities will conduct both technical and market research on these vehicles in real world conditions, thus playing a major role in the eventual market preparedness of this emerging technology.
Although plug-in hybrids show promise there are many technical challenges still to be met. And after 10 years of convincing customers they don't need to plug in a Prius how will they react to the need for daily grid connection?
No doubt about it, mainstream America has embraced hybrid technology. Last week, we began shipping the second-generation Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV to dealerships nationwide. The new Highlander Hybrid will join the Camry Hybrid and Prius to account for more than a quarter-million hybrid sales for 2007. Yet hybrids still make up less than one percent of total vehicle sales in the U.S.
As vital and important as plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles may be to our future a majority of the US auto market will be driven in the short- and medium-term by consumers seeking conventional trucks and SUVs.
And no one is better positioned to meet these needs than Toyota. Of the six SUVs in our lineup three are all-new this year while two others, the RAV4 and FJ Cruiser are less than two years old.
Of the vehicles all-new this year, the second-generation Sequoia will arrive last, but certainly not least.
Buyers of Large SUVs tend to be loyal with about half returning to the segment.
Despite the rise in fuel prices, many buyers have no alternative to the full-size SUV. They are active and image conscious owners with families who command styling, utility and a broad range of capability that a mid-SUV or van cannot provide.
Their favorite pastimes include taking outdoor adventures with family and friends.
In the U.S. planning an outdoor adventure typically requires a people-hauler with large comfortable seating, cargo space for your gear and the performance capability to travel various terrains. And the new Sequoia delivers on all counts.
Ladies and gentlemen,… the all-new second-generation Toyota Sequoia.
Although the new Sequoia has undergone dramatic changes in every imaginable category, the basic concept remains the same. People who buy a full-size SUV typically need a full-size SUV. And recreational travel with family, friends and equipment on the inside and a boat in-tow on the outside is at the top of the list.
We know well how Americans operate on their vacations. They pack everything they need and usually a little bit more. Within the cabin, they want to be comfortable, safe and secure, and require personalized entertainment for all aboard.
Most importantly, they are fearless in their attempts to cover as much ground as possible in a single day. That is why Sequoia chief engineer Motoharu Araya devised and implemented what he termed the “1000-mile-a-day concept.”
On the open road, a thousand miles in one day is a major chunk of real estate, translating to about 14 hours behind the wheel on a wide-open interstate. Admittedly, this is not a typical drive for a typical family. It is however, what Chief Engineer Araya considered within the limits of how many American “road warriors” attack long distance driving.
In practical terms the 1000-mile-a-day concept required a powertrain capable of towing 10,000 lbs AND delivering improved fuel economy along with a major reduction in NVH. It required a new high-rigidity chassis for straight-line stability and low NVH coupled with the comfort and control of a fully independent rear suspension. It required the best turning radius in the class to complement a new--incredibly smooth variable-flow control steering system. And it would require a new prioritization of seat design, comfort and positioning in all three rows for all eight passengers.
Long distance driving is an American phenomenon. It is not unique to America, but I believe Americans invented it and have refined it to an art form. Simply put, everything about the new Sequoia was based on achieving the ultimate statement in long-distance transportation.
The new 2008 Sequoia rides on an all-new platform, is completely redesigned inside and out, and offers a new, significantly more powerful 5.7L V8 engine.
The new V8 produces 381 horsepower and 401 pounds/feet of torque one of the highest outputs in its class. It is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission providing the 2008 Sequoia with excellent acceleration and an available towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.
Even with the significant increase of 108 hp Sequoia's fuel efficiency is improved by 2 miles per gallon, or nearly 12 percent over the previous model and will be ULEV-II compliant. And, beginning in 2008, Sequoia will be offered with a flex-fuel option.
A primary design goal of the new Sequoia was to ensure its driver and passengers, regardless of their size, will have sufficient space to ride in comfort.
In fact, Sequoia will be spacious enough to comfortably accommodate people well-above normal height in each of its eight seats.
Don't take my word for it. After the press conference today please take the opportunity to climb in and out of the second and third row seats. We don't think any vehicle in the class comes close to roominess, comfort and ease of ingress/egress.
Standard safety features include Toyota's STAR Safety System, as well as driver and passenger seat-mounted side-airbags and 3-row roll-sensing side-curtain airbags.
Since its launch, Sequoia has maintained one of the youngest buyers in its segment with an average age of 40, with nearly 60 percent of Sequoia owners being married with children.
We believe Sequoia's three-grade strategy will help attract a wider, more diverse group of buyers.
The SR5, with its lower price point, will appeal to young families and couples.
The Limited grade should appeal to more established families and diverse groups looking for a higher level of convenience amenities.
Finally, we see the new Platinum grade attracting older couples and established families seeking more refinement and comfort in their SUV.
Pricing for all three grade levels will be announced in about two weeks with vehicles arriving at dealerships around the end of December.
In closing, I'd like to first recognize the man who spent many 1000-mile-days behind the wheel of the new Sequoia during its development.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce, Chief Engineer Motoharu Araya. Mr. Araya…thanks for joining us today.
Finally, here at the 100th year anniversary of the LA Auto Show, we've had the serendipitous opportunity to offer you a glimpse of both the present and the future of the automotive business.
More to the point, the Highlander Hydrogen-Hybrid Fuel-Cell Vehicle and the all-new second-generation Sequoia are vehicles that represent what it means to be a full-line manufacturer today while preparing for major changes in our industry in the very near future.
Fuel-cells and plug-in hybrids, pure-electrics and Lithium-ion batteries and much, much more, will all be part of a future that will require more that just building and selling cars and trucks. It will require a whole new way of doing business.
Over the next few months, we at Toyota will have much to say about the exciting new future of the auto business. For now, thank you all for coming and we hope you enjoy the rest of the show.