- Reaction score
His company is working towards a self-driving future. But he hasn't lost sight of what makes so many people love cars.
Britain's Autocar magazine awarded Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with its highest honor, the Issigonis Trophy, named for Alec Issigonis, creator of the original Mini. To accept the award, Toyoda made a speech in front of the Mini he drove when he lived in London in the 1980s. In his brief speech, Toyoda talks about his company's commitment to self-driving cars, while reminding us why he's one of the coolest leaders in the auto industry today.
"For me, this is the kind of car we should all dream of making," Toyoda said of his Mini. "Affordable, simple and as fun to drive as a go-kart. Even if in the future people go to work in autonomous pods, as industry leaders it is also our job to keep making cars like this."
Like all other CEOs of large automakers, Toyoda has to respond to the push towards autonomous cars, but it's encouraging that he's doing while remembering what makes enthusiasts love cars in the first place.
Toyoda has already put his money where his mouth is too. Toyota is bringing back the beloved Supra, and it's got a second-generation 86 in the works too. Its Gazoo Racing division is committed to the World Endurance and World Rally Championships, while it's also branching off into road cars like the hot Yaris GRMN. Plus, Toyoda has injected into Lexus with the gorgeous and great-to-drive LC500 flagship coupe.
I can't help but see parallels to Toyota in the 1960s. In the years following World War II, Toyota, like all other Japanese automakers, had a simple mission—mobilize Japan's people and its economy. Toyota worked towards that goal with plenty of utilitarian cars, but it also decided to build a world-class sports car, the 2000GT. A car born out of a love for technological innovation and the automobile itself.
Toyoda, a keen driver and big motorsports fan himself, hasn't lost sight of that love, even as mobility is once again a chief concern. As we head towards an uncertain automotive future, where human driving could take on a diminished role, we as enthusiasts should be grateful we have people like Toyoda leading the way.