Akio Toyoda, the Japanese manufacturer’s chairman, was a strong supporter of the fun factor in Toyota vehicles before taking office, especially when he ordered the company to stop producing “boring cars.”
As president and CEO of the company, Toyoda was succeeded by Koji Sato earlier this year. However, Toyoda also drives the cars, as evidenced by his racing adventures under the alias “Morizo,” which has since inspired the creation of a limited-edition GR Corolla. Previously, he spearheaded a redesign that included driver-oriented models like the GR Supra, GR86, and GR Yaris.
According to Toyota Times, the Japanese automaker’s internal magazine, Toyoda acknowledged to a group of dealers during a recent dialogue session at the Japan Mobility Show that he worries that the company would revert to its boring ways. Toyoda said in recalling his shock at being told “Lexus is boring” at the debut of the fourth-generation Lexus GS. He said:
“I constantly fear that Toyota will go back to being an ordinary company. When that fear spreads to many people, it will be too late. Even with the title of president, it took me 14 years to change Toyota, but things could revert in a flash. “
“When I approached the engineering team’s ‘ivory tower’ to give my impressions of our cars, they shut down the conversation, saying ‘We’ve had no such data or any complaints’,” Toyoda recalled, adding when he asked them to drive something he thought was better for comparison, his engineers would say “they are the same on paper”.
Fast forward to the present day when Toyoda continues to be the Master Driver at the carmaker, the Toyota chairman could spend more time developing cars under the Gazoo brand, Toyota CEO Sato said in May. Beginning without a technical background, Akio Toyoda initially faced an uphill battle in convincing the engineers of his findings, though with time spent driving and honing his skills, the team started to bring development units for him to drive, and now his feedback is incorporated immediately and development cars are brought back to him within the week.
Toyoda resolves to ensure this approach is “shared with today’s carmaking contingent so that things don’t go back to the way they were,” to avoid going back to making decisions ‘on paper’, as they used to be.
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