Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, was awarded the Issigonis Trophy at the annual Autocar Awards, hosted at the Silverstone race circuit in the UK on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. This award has been named after the internationally celebrated car designer, Sir Alec Issigonis, who is renowned as the creator of the Mini. The trophy is the highest personal honour awarded by the world’s oldest automotive magazine and our sister publication, Autocar UK. It was presented to Mr Toyoda in Toyota City by Steve Cropley, Autocar UK editor-in-chief.
At this momentous occasion, Mark Tisshaw, editor, Autocar UK, said, “This is our highest accolade and our most prestigious and most personal award. It goes to Mr Toyoda in recognition of the quite incredible job he has done at the helm of Toyota and Lexus. He has been proved right on so many issues and it is inspiring to see him do such diverse things as lead the agenda on future powertrain technologies and bring back cars that appeal to the enthusiast, all while selling a vast amount of ever-more desirable cars.”
Mr Toyoda was unfortunately unable to attend the Autocar Awards at the Silverstone race circuit but expressed his gratitude in a video message. Celebrating the inspirational work of Issigonis, he was filmed arriving in Toyota City at the wheel of a classic Mini. “I am very honoured to receive the Issigonis Trophy because I feel it represents a link between our industry’s great past and its future,” he said.
He also paid tribute to his grandfather, Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, and said he was in fact accepting the award on his behalf, rather than for himself. “Today, in the midst of the greatest transformation the auto industry has experienced in the past hundred years, I feel that Kiichiro is behind me, saying ‘you should face it with challenging spirits’,” he went on to say. “In this greatest transformation, what we do not forget is that our core business, cars, are much more than pieces of metal. They represent the freedom to move. And when you are free to move, anything is possible.”
In conclusion, he paid a personal tribute to the Mini – a car he drove himself, during his time living and working in London in the 1980s – and acknowledged how it remains an inspiration to him. “For me it is the kind of car we should all dream of making,” he said. “Affordable, simple and as fun to drive as a go-cart. Even if the future people will go to work in autonomous pods, as industry leaders it is also our job to keep making cars like this.”
Mr Toyoda took up the position of Toyota president in 2009. Since then, he has led the company in a programme of innovation and development that looks beyond vehicle manufacturing and toward finding ways of providing everyone in society with the freedom of mobility. Toyota says that under his leadership, the company pursues a mission to produce ever-improving cars, recognising the importance present in the pure joy of driving and drawing inspiration and excitement from being involved in international motorsport.
Simultaneously, Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 has set high targets for significantly reducing the environmental impact of every aspect of the company’s global operations and its products. Toyota, being a world leader in the development of electrified powertrains, has continuously evolved its hybrid technology from the launch of the original Prius in 1997 to the delivery of Mirai, the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell electric sedan – a car that signals the potential and great environmental benefits of a future hydrogen-centred society.
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