Akio Toyoda, the current president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation and a descendant of the founder of the company, Sakichi Toyoda, seems like the kind of guy you’d want to hang out with and play a round of Gran Turismo or just hop into your car and hit the track for a quick race.
He also has a vision to provide Toyota’s (and Lexus’) new products with a more colorful, and less plain vanilla edge. Karl Schlicht, executive vice-president at Toyota Motor Europe, agrees with this notion, stating to Top Gear UK that Toyoda is trying to encourage this way of thinking in the company.
Schlicht said that it could begin with a possible production version of the 2014 Detroit Motor Show’s Toyota FT-1 Concept, which may “spearhead” a fresh range of more driver-focused cars with fancier designs.
“The reaction [to the FT-1] was much stronger than even we thought,” said Schlicht. “Production? It’s possible. We need more emotional cars, and Akio-san is encouraging that. He believes Toyotas should be drivers’ cars. Our cars need to improve, especially for European tastes…”
The Toyota executive told the magazine that the company may pursue these goals even if it comes at a cost in sales.
“We don’t have any volume targets,” Schlicht explained. “If we sell 10 million cars [annually around the world], that’s great, but that’s not the main aim. We’re not worried if we alienate a few people.”
Naturally, as with most chats with Toyota’s people, the conversation went there – you know, about the GT 86 / Scion FR-S and whether there are any concrete plans for a faster edition, to which Schlicht was negative (no surprise there).
“We want to keep that car pure,” he said. “You put a turbo on it, give it bigger tyres, and you start turning it into a different category of car…”
By John Halas
Tip of the hat to Tuan Cao!