“No more boring cars!” With these words, former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda sternly addressed his managers years ago. Toyota models had to become more exciting, and not just reliable. It worked. But now there is someone else at the helm and Toyoda admits he is constantly worried that Toyota will go back to its old ways.
Years ago, anyone who wanted to put their children to sleep sang a lullaby or listed all the new Toyota models. There’s a good chance that your offspring fell asleep like a baby after the Yaris, the Auris and the Prius. And if that didn’t happen, the final blow came after the Verso. In short: almost every Toyota was a gray mouse. Exceptions such as the Land Cruiser and funny ones Toyota iQ apart from that.
Akio Toyoda changed course
All this changed in 2009, when Akio Toyoda became CEO of Toyota. The grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda did not like the fact that Toyota was mainly seen as a boring brand. So things changed. Toyota and Lexus were no longer allowed to make boring cars. The man kept his word. In the same year, Toyota unveiled the FT-86, a sports car study that was launched three years later as the Toyota GT86.
It didn’t stop with the GT86. The Toyota Supra returned and the Toyota Yaris was given a course of steroids and came onto the market as a limited Yaris GRMN, with 212 hp and a top speed of 230 km/h. Later the Toyota GR Yaris followed with even more power, namely 261 hp. Moreover, Toyota performed very creditably in rallying and long-distance racing. Nondeju!
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Afraid that Toyota will become an ordinary company again
But at the beginning of this year, Akio Toyoda announced that he was taking a step back. He became chairman of the board of directors and passed the baton as chief executive to Koji Sato. Apparently that doesn’t sit well with him yet, judging by a message motor1.com. At the recent Japan Mobility Show (where Toyota unveiled several EVs), Toyoda spoke to dealers and journalists and did not turn his heart into a murder pit:
“I’m constantly afraid that Toyota will become a normal company again. And if that fear spreads to many other people, it will be too late to turn the tide. Even as president of Toyota, it took me fourteen years to turn Toyota into an exciting brand. But this can be reversed in a flash.”
We understand Toyoda’s fear a bit, but we are a bit more positive. The new Toyota Prius for example, is more exciting than ever. And also the new one Toyota C-HR you can’t possibly call him a boring piet. Furthermore, the current boss used to be at the helm of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsport division, and has already indicated that he would like the return of the Toyota Celica.