Look At The Quality Of The Vehicle At The End of Use, Not The Number of Years Of Use

How do you look at CSR and sustainability actions at Toyota?

At TKM we believe that sustainability and CSR are as important as business profits. Money is important as it feeds into our CSR and sustainability initiatives. These activities are close to my heart and I take a keen interest in promoting them. We have our priority areas – education, sanitation, water environment and road safety. We focus on a few areas and try to ensure that we do the things right. We also aim to perfect our activities on a small scale and when we are confident we try to scale them up. For us the approach is that of a pyramid (which Tachibana-san drew on the whiteboard in his office).


At the top is the Toyota brand, which is supported by our products representing our commitment to high standards of quality and delivering to the customer’s total requirements integrating all stakeholders. Our Operations’ teams are responsible and dedicated towards achieving success in turning out quality cars; our Human resources takes care of our people who come from the society around us and ultimately, we are all collectively responsible to the earth. Our products represent quality that encompasses all our activities and it is this helps us in being a sustainable product. Our human resources are honed at the Toyota Technical Training Institute that inculcates a sense of sustainability and social responsiveness. Our Ecozone project (that promotes biodiversity and nature) are what we give back to the earth.

We value our supply chain (dealers & suppliers) and respect the fundamentals of our relationship through teamwork and pass on the Toyota values across all our operations. In Toyota we practice ‘CUSTOMER FIRST” approach by listening to the customer. Our project “BEST IN TOWN” at dealerships is a testimony to our effort to bring excellence in our service to meet our ever changing customer expectation.

In pursuit of enhancing Quality of life we aim to build the safest car in India with global standards. Our thinking is always focussed on Sustainability.

We believe business responsibility has a four step approach – Reactive, Proactive, Predictive, and one that Influences.

A Reactive approach is one where you support with Donations or Compensation as one time solution for addressing the social issue. However, this is not sustainable. A Preventive approach aims to solve the societal requirement by proactively taking steps by eradicating the problem by developing infrastructure such school building, Sanitation facilities etc

A Predictive approach is a sustainable approach where focus is on education and behavioural aspects. For example, our “Behaviour Change Demonstration” programme under sanitation which is hugely successful. Influence plays a critical role in changing social behaviour. Influence of children in ODF villages is classic case in the social movement under Swatch Bharat initiative in the community.

Based on the Toyota way, we believe that predictive approach works best for us. Our focus on quality enables us to apply the same principle of kaizen (continuous improvement) to our sustainability practices. The key challenge for us at Toyota is how to integrate the various elements of the pyramid into our sustainability and CSR activities with quality being the central focus.

The Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 sets up some very ambitious targets. What are the key challenges that you face in achieving them?

The Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to have new vehicles with zero CO2 emissions; zero CO2 emissions during its life cycle; plants with zero CO2; challenge of minimising and optimising water usage; establishing a recycling- based society and systems; and establishing future society in harmony with nature. These are definitely challenging but we expect that our continued attention will provide an opportunity to achieve success.

Although we set up a target of 2050 we are well within achieving significant part of the target by 2020.

The key challenge for us is in ensuring that many of the changes that we wish to bring about get implemented. Not everything is in our control. There are several spheres where we need to operate.


Our sphere of influence is the strongest within TKM and weakest at the level of the state. Our approach is simple. We try to implement our ideas within TKM first. These success stories that we showcase to our suppliers, encourage them to adopt them. They in turn become examples of success and motivates them to move to the next level.

We are creating an Eco park to promote Eco awareness and would like to showcase to all stakeholders in our commitment to deal with environmental challenges. Industrial areas pick up success stories of TKM or stakeholders and join in. A great example is our water supply work in villages in Bidadi which has influenced several other factories to join in. This has created tremendous amount of goodwill for Toyota and villagers come from far flung areas to collect clean, RO-processed water. Influencing the city and the state are the hardest. We believe that our demonstration effect works here too.

Our ABCD (A Behavioural Change Demonstration) programme is a step in this direction where we are fighting open defecation. We had already started this initiative and it gained momentum when the Swatchh Bharat campaign was announced. Children learn about issues of open defecation at schools sponsored by TKM. The children become ambassadors of change as they influence their parents to build toilets. This influences the neighbours and communities to change. Gradually, the change is picked up by the local bodies. Thus the cycle of change continues.

We hold the environment month in June each year and invite external parties to attend, learn from us and implement in their settings.

Toyota places significant emphasis on looking at stakeholders (customers, dealers, suppliers, and, community) in its sustainability journey. How does Toyota balance the competing claims of the stakeholders?

Each link of the value chain

is important to us. The stakeholders are involved in all aspects of our business. We look at TKM, its suppliers and its dealers acting as a team. We believe that good teamwork leads to success. We influence our dealers and suppliers through the Toyota way using elements of kaizen, TPS and TBP to help integrate the value chain. For us the quality of life is important and we believe that quality of life can be improved through safety measures. When the safety practices at our premises are inculcated in the staff it will influence their families to adopt safety measures too. For instance, when a staff come to a cross-road we train them to look left and say yocho (all clear or no danger), look right and say yocho, look straight say yocho and proceed. This gets ingrained into our mind-set, we do not have to spend energy or make an effort and our safety is guaranteed. We value safety and embed it’s significance in everything that we do. Dealers are trained to provide safety training and explain the safety features in our vehicles. We adopt global standards of human life value.

The future will see increasingly tighter norms, be it fuel quality or emissions or end-of-use disposal. How do you see Toyota’s meeting these challenges?

We target to meet all global requirements to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability. As regards the end of use guidelines on a vehicle’s life we hold a different viewpoint. For most vehicles, maintenance requirements increase as the vehicle ages. The Toyota vehicles, on the other hand, require minimal maintenance. We have seen vehicles that have clocked as many as a million kilometres and yet they run as efficiently as a new vehicle. You will still find Qualis cars on the road even though we stopped their production several years ago. So, what needs to be done is to look at the quality of the vehicle at the end of use, and not just the number of years that it has been used. We believe there should be mandatory Maintenance of the vehicle policy.

As to scrapped vehicle recovery, the systems and processes are not in place in India. However, as a part of the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 we are tying up with professional companies to recover the scrapped vehicles.

As a guiding principle there is a conscious effort made to promote and develop a responsibility towards quality, safety, environment and society. We are committed to being a sustainable and socially responsible business with a sense of mutual respect and collaboration.

In conversation with Mr. Akito Tachibana, Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd. (Original Post)