Akihiko Saito, Toyota executive vice president for vehicle development, design and quality control
Are hybrid engines a real engineering solution or a transitional technology?
The ultimate solution is the fuel cell. But when will the fuel cell really become feasible? Experts say by 2010, but that will only be the realization. Using fuel cells for mobility will take much, much longer because there's no global infrastructure for a proper fuel supply. I am confident internal combustion engines will continue to be dominant for quite a number of years. Compared with normal diesel or gasoline engines, hybrids are so much better with regard to fuel consumption and emissions. I think we should really promote the change to hybrid drive. Of course, hybrids are much more expensive today. But we will reduce the cost. Then I think hybrids really have a future.
When will Toyota earn money from hybrids?
In the last year our Prius hybrid has reached the breakeven point. We at research and development are trying everything we can to lower the cost. The next step is to actually make a profit from hybrids.