The fourth leg of Toyota’s Five Continents Drive Project is now underway in Europe, having begun at the end of August. This is the third continent in the project following Australia in 2014 and the Americas in 2015 and 2016. For the European leg, the participants will cover a total of 19,000 kms over a period of two months. To date, since starting in 2014, the project has clocked up a total distance of about 68,000 kms.
130 team members are participating in this legt of the Five Continents Drive Project. Europe is the birthplace of the automobile, so it is important for the participants to learn many things from driving on the roads and to understand what customers expect from their cars.
As part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s activities aimed at developing human resources capable of making ever-better cars, the Five Continents Drive Project provides an opportunity for Toyota employees from Japan and local affiliates to take the wheel and experience first-hand driving on the actual roads used daily by owners of Toyota vehicles.
In addition to discovering insights that will help Toyota improve the cars it makes, the aim of the project is to strengthen the collection and analysis of driving data that cannot be obtained on a test track, and ultimately, to contribute to Toyota’s efforts to make ever-better cars.
“Ever since I became President, I’ve been telling everyone at Toyota ‘Let’s make ever-better cars!’ What led to this were the words of the late Hiromu Naruse, a master Toyota test-driver and my driving instructor, who taught me over and over again the meaning of ‘roads make cars’, and to my continuous efforts to put those words into practice,” said Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation.
“After trying to figure out how I, as a non-engineer, could apply the principle of ‘roads make cars’ in making Toyota’s ‘ever-better cars’, I reached the conclusion that the only way to do this is by taking the wheel, having conversations with various types of vehicles, and experiencing numerous ‘roads’ (or environments). Through this, I can sense how engineers feel and speak their language so that we can deliberate with them right until the very last moments of development. This is my way of bringing Toyota closer to our ideal of making ‘ever-better cars,” he explained.
The Toyota President said that the company’s genchi genbutsu (going to the source to get the facts) approach calls for driving cars on the same roads used by customers and exposing cars to regional cultures and climates. “By getting a better picture of the way various customers drive vehicles, we are able to envision the perspective of an actual customer driving on local roads, even while driving on a test track. I believe that our approach ultimately leads to making ever-better cars. We simply cannot make ever-better cars solely on a test track,” Mr. Toyoda said.
He also noted that spending time away from their lives in Japan to live among people of different cultures, and driving together during gruelling days, often in harsh natural environments, has enabled them to grow as human beings. “As a result, I believe that they have become truly dependable employees,” he added.
Moving forward, Toyota will continue its activities in the run-up to 2020, which will be a significant milestone for the company, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.