Jim Lentz Keynote Speech Opens 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show +VIDEO

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

LOS ANGELES - November 28, 2012: The LA Auto Show opened with the keynote speech of Jim Lentz, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA. He addressed several issues. I especially liked what he called his new ‘Big Three’. Not meaning Detroit the manufacturers nor the famous industry names like Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca or Carroll Shelby. But he mentioned three persons whose names are not very familiar and may be, many of us have not even heard of them. They are George Cayley, who invented safety belts, John Hetric, who developed safety cushions now called air bags and Mary Anderson who created the first windshield wipers. Mr. Lentz chose them, because:” They changed the future of the auto industry and positively effected our everyday lives.”

He said all automakers are doing the same and, of course, he gave little hints of what Toyota is up to in the future.

Watch the complete Keynote Speech

In 2015, their first fuel cell hybrid will be offered, but the company will stay focused on developing even more fuel efficient internal combustion engines, as well as hybrid, EV and fuel cell technology. Toyota is also working on developing a next-generation battery, that should have one of the world’s highest performance levels and they are ‘looking at’ wireless battery charging technology.

During the Q&A after his speech, I asked Mr. Lentz if he meant ‘Induction charging’. The answer was positive. Induction is a technology that makes charging easy by parking on spots that the wires in road surface, like in your garage on parking spots. At a test facility in Germany, Siemens demonstrated a year ago that it is possible do drive over such wires embedded in the road. It asks for a different technology in the car, since the battery has to be underneath. When asked, Mr. Lentz said that they are not working with a company like Siemens, but are “doing this in-house”. So it is more than ‘looking at’….

Another issue the whole industry has to address is distracted driving. Last year one in six (!!!) highway deaths were caused by distracted driving. The interactive, multi-media campaign ‘Decide to Drive’ highlights the importance of hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. It is teaching children how to discourage their parents from using handheld devices while driving.

But there are other technologies that will help. Recently, I heard that there is an app that can be downloaded on your smart phone that shuts off the ability to call or receive calls. If an incoming call is received, there is a message that the driver is busy driving and will call back, or can be called back at a certain time. I think this is excellent and if I were a law maker, I would definitely have the ‘mobile device industry’ install it standard and make it undeletable.

Many more new technologies are going to be introduced in the near future. If you stay tuned to The Auto Channel, you will be among one of the first to read about them.

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