From Akio to Car Enthusiasts: "There Is a Carbon-neutral Path for Car Lovers!"


"We don't want to leave any car lovers behind," said an emphatic Akio Toyoda, standing between an AE86 Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno. Here, we share his message to fellow car lovers.

“There is a carbon-neutral path for us as car lovers!”

President Akio Toyoda emphasized these words in his presentation at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2023, a custom car event held at Makuhari Messe on January 13, 2023.

Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi / N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY

Flanking him as he spoke were the AE86 Levin and Trueno, “two classic cars of yesteryear,“ still very popular among car enthusiasts today.

These two contained a message Akio wanted to deliver to car enthusiasts who are feeling slightly uneasy as the world goes carbon-neutral; they may no longer be allowed to drive their beloved cars in the future because older ones are not considered lower- or zero-emission vehicles.

Below is Akio’s message in its entirety.

Two news articles at the start of the year

Akio Toyoda

First, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year. At the beginning of this year, there were two articles in the news with my name on them.

One was, “Toyota President, Absent from New Year’s Reception.”
I’m sorry if I caused any concern. Being able to give the New Year’s greetings here today I finally feel like it's the New Year.

The other article was this.

With a strong title, I believe many people read it. I also received many sympathetic comments. However, some saw it as a sign that Toyota was moving outside Japan. Please don’t worry. I am not announcing about transferring head office outside Japan.

However, it is true that I felt strongly about something when I went overseas last year. It was the appreciation given to the automotive industry. This is where there was a big difference between Japan and overseas.

There is a great appreciation overseas for the contributions to regional growth made by the automotive industry. The happiest thing for me is to be asked for continued support. However, I was never able to feel this way in Japan.

Two cars containing Akio’s hopes

The article reads “...starting to give up on Japan...” But I believe that 2023 is the year Japan will have a chance to share the thoughts of car lovers with the rest of the world.

And the message is...!

“There is a carbon neutral path for us as car lovers!”

“We don’t want to leave any car lovers behind!”

This messaging begins with Auto Salon and continue on to the G7 [Summit hosted in Hiroshima, Japan].

This AE86 Trueno and Levin, these are symbols of this belief.

Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi / N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY

This Trueno has a hydrogen engine vehicle. However, this is not the engine from the Super Taikyu GR Corolla. We converted the original 4AG into a hydrogen engine.

The Levin on the other hand, is a battery EV. The name has been around for half a century, but the two letters “EV” have always been hidden within its name.

Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi / N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY

So, it took 50 years for us to finally install a battery and motor to LEVIN. The original 4AG is a treasure so we removed it with the greatest care. However, the manual transmission is untouched. Clutch and shifting operation can still be enjoyed.

The challenge is to continue to drive our beloved cars even in an age of carbon neutrality!

Over there is the ST165 Celica that our WRC team Principal Latvala won with the Historic Rally last year.

This AE86 was the master that taught professional driver Masahiro Sasaki, and was restored so that he could always return to his roots.

Besides these two, I have many friends who continue to take good care of their cars. Everyone loves cars. And none of them believe the earth is not their problem. What can they individually do to help achieve carbon neutrality? They are seriously thinking about this.

Options for your beloved car

In talking with these car lovers, I realized that “There is a carbon-neutral world that lies beyond conversion,” like this 86.

Many automakers are targeting a shift to battery EVs by around 2030-40. However, the reality is that we cannot achieve zero carbon emissions in 2050 simply by switching all new cars sales to EVs.

It is important to provide options for beloved cars that are already owned.

There are lots of people here at Auto Salon who wants to enjoy their car life with their favorite cars. Although the AE86 conversion technology is still under development, by talking about this today with car lovers, I hope to dismiss the fear that we won’t be able to drive our beloved cars when we go carbon neutral. On the contrary, there is a carbon neutral path that car lovers can take.

If we can get excited for the future, perhaps we can send a big message to the world this year!

This is very exciting for Morizo.

My fellow car lovers! Each and every one of you are the Chief Engineers moving towards carbon neutrality! Let’s build the future together! Thank you.

Akio waited for the applause to die down and then continued his talk.

Recently on Facebook, there is a gentleman who keeps up posting about AE86 that he has just acquired.

I’d like to hand it over to this gentleman from here. I’d like to introduce the President of GR company, (Koji) Sato.

Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi / N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY

When Koji Sato, President of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Company, was called to the stage, Akio immediately began to question him.


Didn’t you bring your car today?


I love it too much and am fixing too many things, so it’s still in pieces, and I couldn’t bring it with me.


This event is three days long. If you can make it in time, please bring it!


I am going to go and help with the work. We are doing it in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture.


Drive it here. And drive safely!

Taking over from Akio, Sato showed off the GR Yaris RZ “High-performance - Sébastien Ogier Edition Concept” and GR Yaris RZ “High-performance - Kalle Rovanperä Edition Concept” that were made to commemorate their WRC drivers’ title wins, and then introduced the highlights of the Lexus and TOYOTA GAZOO racing exhibits.

For details, please visit the Toyota website.