Chairman Akio Toyoda gives thumbs up from behind the wheel of a Honda

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.

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?!”

This post is filed under: News.

4 Responses to Chairman Akio Toyoda gives thumbs up from behind the wheel of a Honda

  1. Bryan Kitsune says:

    It amazes me how many places he is. It seems like every motorsport event I watch that Toyota competes in, I see him at some point. Not to mention that he was acting team principal for the WRC team for Finland while Jari-Matti drove. It’s great that he is so enthusiastic, and I hope he will still have influence for car lovers, even though he’s no longer president (I’m sure that helps him have time to be at all these events).

    And yeah, it’s cool that they had fun with the whole thing.

    • daniel says:

      I think Akio has a vision of his “retirement” that someone has already carried out and intends to emulate: Stan Lee. Work on what you are passionate about and you will never work. I think he may well follow the same path and for the next 30 years be a kind of brand ambassador wherever he goes enjoying his passion without ever ceasing to be connected. and almost every event in which the brand is presented deserves a “cameo” from Toyoda.

  2. Ian N says:

    Easy – “product research”.

    What’s all the fuss about? Know your competitor’s product!

  3. Vitor says:

    Last Month i visited the Toyota Museum close to Nagoya. I wasn’t expecting that It hosted so many cars from other brands, including rival ones like Honda, Nissan… and at the same time not showing iconic models like the supra or starlet. That for me was a surprise

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