Robert Lukić, Toyota Srbija CEO

Prioritising The Well-being Of Society

Toyota has always participated actively in the creation of a better society with its uncompromising commitment to quality, continuous innovation and respect for the planet

Toyota has spent a quarter of a century investing in hybrid technology. The fact that Toyota’s 15 million hybrid-powered vehicles have made it possible to reduce harmful emissions by more than 120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide speaks for itself, notes Toyota Srbija CEO Robert Lukić.

Does the growing popularity of hybrids – even during a year that saw a huge drop in sales of new vehicles globally – provide the best confirmation of your company’s visionary approach?

– Our hybrids are among the most reliable and enduring vehicles on the market, and we now have the fourth generation of that technology on the scene. Other manufacturers want to reduce their shortfalls, and we are helping them by offering around 24,000 patents free of charge in order to speed up electrification. This is yet more proof that our number one priority is the well-being of society and that we don’t think exclusively about commercial success.

Toyota is a pioneer and an innovator in the entire range of ecological motors, for example in the application of hydrogen and fuel cells, as one of the sustainable solutions for transport and mobility in the broadest sense. The fact that clean water is emitted from the “exhaust” is reality rather than science fiction. And we should emphasise in particular the applicability of this technology to public transport, whether that’s buses, trucks or ships – even the biggest ones.

In Serbia some 25% of Toyota vehicles sold are already hybrids. Did state subsidies contribute to that?

– Subsidies have primarily shown that the state is ready to engage actively in solving problems, and pollution is one of the biggest. Belgrade is constantly among the most polluted capitals in the world. Bor, Pančevo, Obrenovac and other places are rarely out of the red alarm zone.

Drivers of low-emission vehicles were practically fined for a long time, because they paid the same annual registration as the big polluters. After the correcting of that injustice, subsidies for eco-vehicles also came, which shouldn’t be seen as assistance to certain manufacturers, rather primarily as a desire to improve the situation.

Hybrid technology has gained the trust of customers through education and constant promotion, and primarily through proving itself in practise

When it comes to Toyota and the sale of hybrids, Serbia is lagging far behind compared to Europe. There sales of vehicles with this type of drive has long since exceeded 50%, and is even above 60% in the West. Although there has been increasing in interest, our so-called sales mix hasn’t changed drastically compared to 2019, when there were no subsidies. Even back then, every fourth Toyota vehicle sold in Serbia had a hybrid drive, while just a year earlier that share was a modest 11%. Otherwise, the advantages of hybrids are not only in the domain of ecological protection. They also have lower operating costs and greater driving comfort (less noise). That’s why, for example, there are ever more hybrids represented in the taxi service. There are already over 400 of them in Niš alone.

What else can be done to make ecological, green vehicles even more accessible to customers?

– That’s a two-way street. On the one side are the manufacturers and the development of technologies that impact on reducing pollution, while on the other side are states and their administrations, which must recognise citizens’ interest in improving living conditions. Our government has taken a visible step forward by introducing subsidies, while the next step could be fairer taxation. Tax classifications according to engine volume have been left behind. In developed countries, the main criterion is environmental impact, i.e. harmful emissions. There are also other good practises, such as reduced costs of parking or access permits to certain parts of cities only for eco vehicles. As a whole, these then provide results and make the progress that we’re striving for.

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