First of all, allow me to wish everyone a Happy New Year.
Although consumption in the United States, a center of the global economy, remains strong, there is also an increase in causes for concern including the situation in Iraq and the sluggish recovery of corporate profits. The Japanese economy continues to face quite difficult circumstances including the rapid fall in stock prices that started in America, and continuing deflation.
It is under these circumstances that we have made steady efforts in a variety of different areas including those to reduce costs group-wide, actively launching new products in Japan and overseas, and expanding local production including starting production of passenger cars in Tianjin, China. As a result of these efforts, the past year overall has been a noteworthy one during which we achieved Group global sales in excess of 6 million vehicles for the first time, maintained a high share of the domestic market, achieved consolidated ordinary income of more than 1 trillion yen for the fiscal year ended March 2002, and posted interim financial results in September that reached historical highs.
However, a sense of uncertainty concerning the future is growing both in Japan and overseas, and in the automobile industry, competition on a global scale is certain to become even more intense. I believe that the combined efforts of the entire Toyota Group will be more important than ever.
Bearing this in mind, our future undertakings will be, first of all, the promotion of cost cutting through cost reductions in the design and production stages as well as steady achievement of results through CCC21 (Construction of Cost Competitiveness 21) activities in order to garner cost competitiveness that totally outstrips our competitors.
With respect to products, this year we will introduce, both in Japan and overseas, a series of new products with innovations in areas such as environmental aspects, performance, and packaging. Last year, we learned that the world of F1 racing is more demanding than we had anticipated, but this year we will strengthen our structures and hope to make significant advances. Last year was also the seventh year we participated in CART racing, and we successfully captured the double title that we had been seeking. This year we will take on the challenge of the IRL series.
In the area of environmental responses, last December we began to start leasing the Toyota FCHV, a fuel cell hybrid passenger car that uses a fuel cell stack developed independently by Toyota. We have already leased six vehicles in Japan and America, and this year we plan to lease the Toyota FCHV to government agencies, local governments, and energy-related companies in Japan.
Last September we reached an agreement with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. concerning transactions regarding hybrid systems that will include technological support in an effort to promote the widespread use of hybrid vehicles. Our global cumulative sales of hybrid vehicles have already reached about 130,000 units, and this year we plan to continue putting efforts into the development and sale of these vehicles.
With regard to diesel vehicles, we continue to work on development of the DPNR system, a revolutionary diesel catalytic converter system that cleans both NOx and particulate matter (PM) from diesel emissions. Tests currently being conducted of vehicles with DPNR systems in Japan and Europe are proceeding well and as a result, we expect to be able to launch DPNR-equipped vehicles this year as originally planned.
Due to the product strength of new products and the efforts of dealers nationwide, domestic sales last year saw Toyota's share of the market rise even higher than the previous year. We will also join efforts with all dealers and undertake to increase sales of Toyota vehicles in this year.
We will also continue our efforts to enhance the sales value chain including sales of used vehicles and servicing.
Concerning overseas developments, last October we began our first production of passenger cars in China. The new VIOS, produced by Tianjin Toyota, has been extremely well received by customers, with more than 10,000 units having already been ordered.
In North America, local production capacity will be increased in September from the current 1.25 million vehicles to 1.48 million. Production of V8 engines units in Alabama is set to begin this year.
Considering that overseas production of both completely built vehicles and components will continue to expand in the future, this year we will create an BR Overseas Production Support Center Project Dept. in the Production Group to investigate optimal means of providing effective support to overseas production affiliates.
Toyota has valued diversity, and we hope to continue as an appealing company for a varied workforce. As one element of those efforts, last year we launched a program to promote the active participation of women that included strengthening our systems for supporting working mothers. This April, we plan to open a childcare facility in the office within the headquarters region.
When we internally announced the 2010 Global Vision last April, I stated that we would "take on the challenges of innovation with complete passion and dedication." The business environment in which Toyota currently finds itself is a difficult one, but with a spirit of determination to overcome difficulties, we will work towards becoming a global company that is capable of contributing to the future realization of a growing and prosperous society for the new century.
I look forward to your continued guidance and support in the coming year too.