Car Nut Could Take the Wheel at Toyota

There’s more than a few Toyotaku who come to JNC because, let’s face it, most of the exciting machines in the automaker’s portfolio are in its past – RWD Celicas, Supras, Sports 800s, MR2s, twin-cam Corollas and the glorious 2000GT. But ever since the Celica and MR2 Spyder were given the axe in 2005, the wealthiest car company in the world has been missing some excitement in its lineup. Some say that the drought began a full decade ago, with the discontinuation of the 1998 JZA80 Supra. Regardless of the exact date, nowadays the Big T is known more for sensible but bland people movers than pulse-quickening sports cars.

However, according to the New York Times, this could all change if Akio Toyoda, grandson of founder Kiichiro Toyoda, becomes president of the company.

Current prez Katsuaki Watanabe, age 66, will retire soon, and when that happens Akio is widely expected to take the helm. The 51-year-old exec is no suit. Described as a true petrol-blooded auto enthusiast, he’s raced a Lexus IS 300 at the 24 hours of Nürburgring and taken a prototype V10 Lexus LF-A supercar for a spin around Fuji Speedway.

Says the article:

Instead of simply selling more cars, Mr. Toyoda said the company needed to spend more time making its existing customers happy.

Mr. Toyoda is fond of a story about three dentists. One advertised he was the best dentist in the world. The second dentist claimed to be the best in France, and the third dentist said only that he was the best dentist in town.

Said Mr. Toyoda: “Everyone says Toyota is the best company in the world, but the customer doesn’t care about the world. They care if we are the best in town, or not. That’s what I want to be.”

Even though he’s Toyoda royalty, that doesn’t mean the job is automatically his. When he joined the company in 1984, he had to start at the bottom, as a management trainee, just like any other Toyota exec. Toyota didn’t become the industrial juggernaut that it is via nepotism, and if Akio Toyoda gets the job, you can bet he deserves it. Which is good, because it’s what the marque deserves too. With his surname on the all the stationery, let’s hope that he will have a vested interest in bringing the company back to its sporting heritage.

Thanks to RoadsterViking for the tip!

[New York Times]

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8 Responses to Car Nut Could Take the Wheel at Toyota

  1. Toyotageek said:

    Very cool that he is a hands on kind of guy. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with Akio and Toyota in the years to come. I do hope that if he takes the reins, he will bring some spark to the lineup.

  2. kingtoy said:

    I sure hope he takes the spot. He sounds like just what Toyota needs to bring it back to it’s glory days. With a true car-nut at the helm we might get some exciting cars again. I now have some hope for the car company I love so dear.

  3. kimico said:

    That is very cool. I hope that the Toyota Motor Company under this new management bring good ideas and a nice versions of our beloved Toyotas. Please bring the RWD excitement back.

  4. Jim said:

    revive the rear wheel drive celica similar to the mustang,camaro,challenger. When it was introduced we were in a an unsure gas market and it offered a fuel efficient baby muscle car. With the Celica and Supra growing in the collector car market a future plan would be needed as the excitement of the early models needs a revival

  5. Ben said:

    Could not agree with you more, Jim!

  6. zulu said:

    jim thats exactly what im talking bout man! I own a 73 celica myself. i hope akio becomes president of the company. toyota need a RWD sports car again! even if it was a new model and not a resurrection of one of the older models like the Supra, MR2, RWD celicas etc , id still be extremely happy.

  7. Mr.L.J.Nordvik said:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself,Jim!

  8. Jim’s comments are quite true. Toyota created a great image when they brought out the RWD Celica in 1970 due to it’s inexpensive price tag, efficient design, great looks, and advanced suspension, not to mention the well appointed interior.

    So what would I like to see/buy??

    I would likely buy a revived RA28 Celica, RWD with turbocharged engine. I am building one of the originals at the moment, but would love to have one with that ‘new car’ smell. If they bring them out with a good range from the inexpensive and efficient base model to the still not too expensive, but wildly fun turbocharged GT, it would do wonders to the company’s image.