If you needed further proof that Akio Toyoda is the most delightful car executive in the world, look no further. The former president of Toyota recently charmed Japan’s netizens when he was spotted at a rally event in Japan driving a Honda. “What kind of car is this?” the cameraman asks as Toyoda pulls up. With nothing short of total enthusiasm, the current Toyota chairman says, “It’s a Honda!” before chucking a thumbs up and driving off.
— トヨタ自動車株式会社 (@TOYOTA_PR) September 7, 2023
The car in question is a Honda Vezel, a version of which is sold in the US as the HR-V. Riding shotgun next to Toyoda is none other than Juha Kankkunen, four-time WRC Drivers Championship winner, most recently in an ST185 Celica GT-Four in 1993. As the duo drives away, whoever’s running Toyota’s social media accounts proves they have a sense of humor by cutting to Honda’s “The Power of Dreams” slogan and voiceover, used a the end of all Honda television commercials.
Toyoda and Kankkunen, who are in full Gazoo Racing gear, appear to be conducting a recce prior to the race, in which Toyoda was scheduled to drive a GR Yaris Rally1 in a demo run. The Honda could be a rental, as teams sometimes borrow regular cars to drive stages at low speed in order to jot down pace notes. A late-model SUV of any sort would do, but most execs have no chill and probably would not be caught dead in anything but their own brands. Toyota definitely has the resources to get the chairman into a Big T product — they even have their own rental car agency with offices across Japan called Toyota Rent-a-Car — but Akio Toyoda deserves a bit of fun. He’s a known car guy and has driven Toyotas his whole life.
The sighting has gone viral in Japan, where Toyoda is a well-known public figure. Some comments to the video read, “He must really like cars,” and, “From today on I’m Akio Honda,” and “Let’s make a commercial where Chairman Toyoda drives a Type R.” The video even got a repost from Honda’s own official account with the caption, “What?!?!?!?!?! Chairman?!”