Editor-in-Chief Teruyuki Kagawa and President Akio Toyoda met for the first time at the world premiere of the GR Supra held in Detroit, Michigan in January 2019 at the North American International Auto Show. At that time, Akio invited Kagawa to take a ride with him as a passenger. Kagawa quickly agreed, but asked that it be in the all-new GR Supra.
During the next year, Kagawa would tirelessly travel to worksites in Nürburgring, Silicon Valley, and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center to attend and participate in activities and learn about the true essence of Toyota.
Finally, the day came to be Akio’s passenger. The chosen location was the test course circuit at the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. Akio pulled up in front of Kagawa driving a matte gray GR Supra.
As the two rode in the Supra, they had an intense conversation ranging from topics that included Toyota, human life, their beloved cars, and the future. Akio mentioned that he becomes more open when he is driving, so Kagawa captured 24 on-camera minutes of President Toyoda baring his soul as they drove the test course. Below is the video of that encounter, and we hope you catch a glimpse of what kind of a man Akio Toyoda is and what he thinks about.
Video Highlights selected by the Editor
●“When I grab the steering wheel, I become a more honest, straightforward person.” (1:08)
President Toyoda appears in the GR Supra with the sound of the engine rumbling. He gets out to greet Kagawa, who, after a short discussion outside, takes the passenger seat to listen to President Toyoda who moments before exclaimed, “When I grab the steering wheel, I become a more honest, straightforward person.”
●“Safety and security are absolutely non-negotiable.” (1:45)
The phrase Kagawa says he heard most frequently as he attended events while gathering information was “safety and security.” Kagawa takes the opportunity to ask President Toyoda about his thoughts on his quest to make “ever-better cars.”
●“At Toyota, ‘top-down’ means that the top goes down to the bottom.” (3:48)
Another thing that Kagawa continuously observed as he spent time with Toyota for the past year was how much the president knew about things going on at company worksites. To him, this felt different than what he had seen at other companies. In the video, President Toyoda discusses why he is so particular about the company’s work sites.
●“Who am I?” (7:03)
In the course of discussion, President Toyoda brings up the fact that he was raised in an environment where he was constantly exposed to extreme pressure. This made him wonder and repeatedly ask himself, “Who am I?”.
●“I love cars that are loud and smell of gasoline.” (9:24)
While driving on the course, President Toyoda becomes visibly happy when asked about his love for cars, candidly saying that he likes the noise and smell of them.
●“I need to be sensitive at all times.” (10:00)
Kagawa asks: Why do you need to improve your driving skills? President Toyoda explains how his sense of responsibility as the head of the company entrusted with 10 million lives every year motivates him to continuously improve.
●“Are you interested in a car that can function as a partner for improving my skills?”. (12:28)
President Toyoda switches vehicles to drive an 86 with competition specs, the same he uses when competing in rallies. He takes Kagawa for a ride and demonstrates some impressive drifting.
●“Please ride in one of Toyota’s future products.” (15:38)
The last vehicle President Toyoda arranged to drive with Kagawa is a next-generation prototype Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), which uses hydrogen as its energy source. During this part of the video, the two discuss the future of mobility.
●“There are things that we can do, precisely because we are Toyota.” (20:30)
Kagawa poses the question, “What will happen in the future?”. President Toyoda responds: “I don’t know.” He explains that this is because the future will be determined by the people who live in the future. However, many options can be prepared for the future. This is one reason why Toyota is pursuing various powertrain and mobility possibilities.