Toyota has been a different prospect since Akio Toyoda was first appointed president of the company. Having no doubt had a period of dull offerings in the ‘00s, Toyoda’s tenure as president since 2009 saw the arrival of the GT86, the revival of the Supra and the introduction of the bonkers GR Yaris just for a start.
However, Toyoda, who is now chairman of the board, has admitted he worries the company will be “ordinary” again. In a Q&A published by internal magazine Toyota Times, he said: “Cars are not made by a single person, and Kiichiro [son of company founder Sakichi Toyoda and the man responsible for Toyota switching to car manufacturing] was also not alone.”
He added that Toyota is “not a one-man show” and that it’s important to “create an atmosphere” avoiding that mindset, before stating: “I constantly fear that Toyota will go back to being an ordinary company. When that fear spreads to many people, it will be too late.”
It seems, in the short term anyway, Toyoda doesn’t have to worry. The excellent GR Corolla arrived in Japan and the US last year, and the return of the MR2 is seemingly on the horizon with a new life as an electric sports car.
Just last month, Toyoda also hinted that a return for the Celica could be on the cards too. Under his ‘Master Driving Morizon’ pseudonym for Toyota Times, he skirted around a question asking about the Celica’s return, saying “You’ll have to ask Toyota Motor about that. I’m not on the executive side,” he said, before confirming he’d put in a “request,” as the interviewer put it.
However, he dropped a key hint, referring to Toyota activities with retired WRC star Juha Kankkunen. "I’m not just saying this because we’re at a rally event, but Kankkunen is 'Mr. Celica,'" Toyoda said, adding, "Now you can all have a think about why I’m using Kankkunen so much. See if you can guess!"