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At the beginning of 2023, Toyota announced a massive switchup in executive roles, with Akio Toyoda stepping down from CEO to become the automaker's chairman. More recently, Toyoda has opened up about the challenges he faced as head honcho, and his experiences have become clearer during a Q&A session held at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show. One of the most interesting bits was when Toyoda voiced his concerns about the company returning to being "ordinary."



"It took 14 years," Toyoda said, referring to his efforts to turn Toyota into something more exciting. Reactions to the unveiling of the Lexus GS in 2011 at Pebble Beach sounded the first alarm for Toyoda, with many referring to Lexus as a "boring" brand. During that same time period, European automakers at the Nürburgring test track in Germany remarked that "Toyota can’t do it" as they observed the brand's projects.


"That only fueled my fire," Toyoda continued. "But it really took a long time."


Toyoda was then fully determined to transform his company into one that would no longer be bland, and began making his thoughts more vocal with those within Toyota. However, his perspectives weren't without opposition from engineers and fellow executives. Upon approaching the engineering department to voice his opinion, they would "shut down the conversation, saying, 'We’ve had no such data or any complaints.'"


"It was really tough going," he said.


Toyoda began taking the time to test the brand's developing vehicles himself, providing his feedback directly to the R&D team. "All I could do was get behind the wheel, continue to drive, master the skills, and hone my senses," Toyoda said. "Now, I can back up my perceptions with data, and more engineers are open to hearing my impressions."




Since then, Toyoda's dreams have come true, especially with the creation of the GR performance division. It introduced sports cars like the GR Supra, GR Yaris, and GR 86––heck, even a GR Corolla––along with an array of unique offerings under the Crown and Land Cruiser names. These were all things that did not exist in Toyota's lineup back in 2011.


Even today, however, Toyoda is still concerned about the brand's ability to sustain the newly-injected excitement he worked so hard to provide. "I constantly fear that Toyota will go back to being an ordinary company," Toyotda said. "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."


Source: Toyota Times
Image Credits: Toyota
Report
Nov 23, 2023
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Former Toyota CEO Expresses Fears About Brand Returning To "Ordinary"

It took Akio Toyoda 14 years to transform Toyota into what it is today.

At the beginning of 2023, Toyota announced a massive switchup in executive roles, with Akio Toyoda stepping down from CEO to become the automaker's chairman. More recently, Toyoda has opened up about the challenges he faced as head honcho, and his experiences have become clearer during a Q&A session held at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show. One of the most interesting bits was when Toyoda voiced his concerns about the company returning to being "ordinary."



"It took 14 years," Toyoda said, referring to his efforts to turn Toyota into something more exciting. Reactions to the unveiling of the Lexus GS in 2011 at Pebble Beach sounded the first alarm for Toyoda, with many referring to Lexus as a "boring" brand. During that same time period, European automakers at the Nürburgring test track in Germany remarked that "Toyota can’t do it" as they observed the brand's projects.


"That only fueled my fire," Toyoda continued. "But it really took a long time."


Toyoda was then fully determined to transform his company into one that would no longer be bland, and began making his thoughts more vocal with those within Toyota. However, his perspectives weren't without opposition from engineers and fellow executives. Upon approaching the engineering department to voice his opinion, they would "shut down the conversation, saying, 'We’ve had no such data or any complaints.'"


"It was really tough going," he said.


Toyoda began taking the time to test the brand's developing vehicles himself, providing his feedback directly to the R&D team. "All I could do was get behind the wheel, continue to drive, master the skills, and hone my senses," Toyoda said. "Now, I can back up my perceptions with data, and more engineers are open to hearing my impressions."




Since then, Toyoda's dreams have come true, especially with the creation of the GR performance division. It introduced sports cars like the GR Supra, GR Yaris, and GR 86––heck, even a GR Corolla––along with an array of unique offerings under the Crown and Land Cruiser names. These were all things that did not exist in Toyota's lineup back in 2011.


Even today, however, Toyoda is still concerned about the brand's ability to sustain the newly-injected excitement he worked so hard to provide. "I constantly fear that Toyota will go back to being an ordinary company," Toyotda said. "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."


Source: Toyota Times
Image Credits: Toyota

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Former Toyota CEO Expresses Fears About Brand Returning To "Ordinary"

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