Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz was recruited earlier this year from Volkswagen AG's Audi division to head sales and marketing at Toyota Motor Europe. He took up his new post in Brussels in February. Reporter Diana T. Kurylko interviewed Diaz Ruiz about Toyota's planned Yaris supermini.
How is development of the Yaris going?
Extremely well. I was in Japan (in July) testing the car. I think we have a winner. We offer an extremely innovative solution to customers in this segment and we feel extremely confident.
We heard that the interior had to be ripped out and redone. Is that true?
Absolutely not. We conducted clinics 18 months ago. The clinics were extremely positive. The car has so much personality and the interior reflects that personality. The design, the quality, the attention to detail has been such that the Yaris is one of the most noble products in the Toyota range. At the same time, it is a car that has been designed around the human being.
It has been designed around the needs and expectations and lifestyles of our customers. We will be presenting a range of products in the Yaris family to you in the years to come.
How many versions will the Yaris have?
We will introduce a beautiful new three-door and a four-door next spring.
What about a Yaris sport-utility or van?
There are a lot of possibilities. This is a story that deserves to be explained in steps.
What will it compete with?
The Yaris is very versatile. It offers the interior package of a large car in a very compact exterior. It will be a B-segment (supermini) car like the VW Polo, the Fiat Punto and the Renault Clio. But the Yaris will offer a little bit more. It will attract customers from many other segments.
Is Mercedes-Benz's A-class a competitor?
The competitors for the Yaris are the cars in the volume B-segment. We are talking about a type of discerning customer who is looking for a good value relationship, but is more interested in the design, the package, the technology and the variability that the car offers.
So Yaris won't attract the typical B-segment budget buyer?
No, it will not because traditional B-segment bargain hunters tend to like extremely conservative designs. The Yaris has a very strong personality. It will make heads turn as it drives by. Everybody is looking for a good deal, of course.