If you’re looking for leaders who are THINKING CLEARLY about the future of the automotive industry… look no further than Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda. At a recent conference in Las Vegas, Toyoda said all the right things. He showed gumption & passion for the auto industry. In other words… he spoke from an EMOTIONAL perspective. When was the last time you saw an automotive CEO do that? When was the last time you saw ANY OF THEM talk about vehicles without going straight to tech… or range.
Akio Toyoda came out the gate emphatically reenforcing that he “loves cars”.
And his background reflects that. He is a driver, and a racer. And that’s truly a breath of fresh air versus most other automotive CEOs these days. Someone who’s passionate about the products they produce – ABOVE & BEYOND the financial prospects. A automotive CEO who is still romantic about cars! That’s crucially important to you if you’re a car enthusiast. Because from an enthusiast’s perspective, we want to see car manufacturers build GREAT cars again. The kind of cars that CREATE enthusiasts… not leave them for dead. We’re too damn tired of seeing car manufacturers cater to the lowest common denominator of driver. And we’re disgusted with seeing car manufacturers prioritize people WHO DON’T WANT TO DRIVE CARS!
When you say the word ‘CONNECTION’
9-out-of-10 automotive CEOs will immediately think ‘bluetooth’. Akio Toyoda thinks ‘emotional’.
It takes a lot of balls to stand up & say that all these declarations to be fully EV by 2035 are unrealistic… if not unwise. But that’s what Akio Toyoda did. American car companies have a long history of being wrong, unprepared, and dopey. Yes – there are temporary flares of brilliance that pop through. But overall – American car companies go blindly all-in on one idea until it backfires, then pull a complete 180 AND THEN pat themselves on the back for being ahead of the curve. But Akio Toyoda is leading Toyota to stay diverse & adaptable. Not to put all their eggs in one basket. While that may make him unpopular with some of the loudest EV activists, it is the smart play… if you’re playing to win. Not only for business, but also for the environment.
Let’s not forget…
Toyota pioneered the hybrid back in 1997 with the first Prius. They’re continuing to invest $70 billion into EV/hybrid innovation, with about half of that going towards full EV models. So this isn’t a failure to think progressively. On the contrary, this is Toyota CONTINUING to think progressively… even when it makes them unpopular with the progressives.
The fact of the matter is, as Toyoda states, it’s going to be very difficult to implement EVs into the world as quickly as the politicians say we will. Politicians need to listen to the professionals here. We don’t yet know the sustainability, or the longterm effects. Sure electric vehicles work well for some; will they work for everyone? Also – EVs thrive well at 6% of the market, but will they work at 60% of the market… let alone 100%.
The smart play…
Is to let EV and ICE complete without manipulation. BOTH will get better & cleaner as a result. And we will ultimately find the best way forward for the the planet & its citizens… while offering FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Toyota is “playing to win”. And while other car manufacturers are frantically chasing the EV carrot, Toyoda is looking down from the grandstands to see where exactly that carrot’s headed.
Akio Toyoda believes it’s all about giving their customers OPTIONS.
Other CEOs & politicians are forcing consumers to buy vehicles they don’t necessarily want, at an increasing price they might not be able to afford. Who would you call the leader here? And going back to green, what’s greener: 6 Toyota hybrids, or 1 EV Hummer… because they take about the same amount of resources & carbon footprint to produce. There is a quickly widening gap between what’s truly green, and what’s fashionably green.
Lastly, Akio Toyoda expressed no plans to change Toyota’s dealership model.
Toyoda believes that the relationship & buying experience between Toyota & their customers works best with a localized presence & sense of community. Local dealerships give automakers the opportunity to reach out & get personal in the community. Brand perception/loyalty becomes more personal when you sit next to a Toyota representative at your kid’s t-ball game… and/or when a local Toyota dealer sponsored their new uniforms. If impersonal & transactional is what you want out of this world, there are plenty of auto manufacturers going that route. But thankfully, it doesn’t seem like Toyota is going to be one of them.