SERIES
2022.01.06

[In the words of Akio] #09: "Step up to the plate"

2022.01.06

In May 2021, the hydrogen-powered Corolla made it through a 24-hour endurance race. Akio Toyoda, who also participated in the race as driver “Morizo”, asked the attending media for their support with the world’s first endeavor towards achieving carbon neutrality.

It was at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show that Akio shared his position on taking on the challenge. Using baseball analogy in honor of the baseball star Ichiro (with the Miami Marlins at the time) who was on stage with him, Akio said:

“The cars you see on display today all have something in common. Each of them represents an effort―backed by our heartfelt desire to make ever-better cars―to give form to our concept of ‘Wow!’

And that also means taking on the challenge of transforming today’s ‘pipe dreams’ into tomorrow’s household names.

Hybrids and fuel cell vehicles have both, at one point, been dismissed as oddities. Experience has taught us that, while ideas like these come from the fringes at first, they settle down and become the new norm. And then, if we don’t find a way to escape that comfort zone, we will never be able to open the road to the future.

In life, there are so many reasons for simply saying ‘It can’t be done’ or ‘It’s impossible’ and giving up. But if you never try, you deny yourself the chance to know what you could have achieved. If you don’t show the courage to step up to the plate, ‘Wow!’ just won’t happen.”

The environment surrounding the automotive industry is changing at an ever-increasing pace. A mountain of challenges awaits, including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, taking initiatives towards carbon neutrality, and seeking out a next-generation mobility society.

In such an era, it is difficult to predict the future and show results quickly, says Akio. That is why, Akio advised his fellow colleagues “It’s okay to fail,” as they took on the challenge of 24-hour endurance race.

During the 56th All-Toyota Total Quality Management Competition held in November 2021, he once again called on the participants to “step up to the plate”.

“People fail because they’re taking on challenges. If they don’t experience failure, that’s because they’ve only set themselves small goals, and stayed within a safe environment where they aren’t taking on challenges…I want to establish a corporate culture which cheers for a person who dares to step up to the plate even if they hit zero or one out of 10. In that way, you might fail, but in continuing to think about why you failed, you will eventually achieve results. I think it is important to continue stepping up to the plate to take on challenges.”

On a previous occasion, Akio had spoken about how to approach someone who stepped up to the plate. Reassuring he is there to take full responsibility for whatever consequences, he once again used baseball analogy to share his thoughts that a coach should always say, “Nice swing!” even if a player swings and misses.

Now, as Toyota strives to keep many vehicle options open for a carbon-neutral society, Akio is now inspiring his colleagues and partners in the challenge of carbon neutrality by personally stepping up to the plate with unwavering belief in how to move forward.

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