JUST two days before receiving the 2021 World Car Person of the Year award, Akio Toyoda was was at the torch-bearing ceremonies of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics to pass on the Olympic flame.
“To realize a world without any divisions, that is open to everyone,” the Toyota CEO commented after the ceremony. His mantra “happiness for all” is not only a marketing slogan. It comes with actual business transformation programs that impact on society as well.
It is this overflowing charism and sincere acts that has endeared him to his employees and the world around him. In the midst of the pandemic, he was busy protecting jobs, marshaling Toyota Motor Corporation to innovate while trying to survive in the crisis.
In 2020, under his leadership, Toyota remained profitable. He has maintained Toyota’s pace of steady development for the Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric era, and he has initiated the construction of the Woven City, an exciting real-life prototype city of the future. All while actively participating in motorsports himself, as a driver.
These and many more elements that define Aiko Toyoda may have prompted ninety-three distinguished international journalists on the World Car Awards jury panel to vote him as the 2021 World Car Person of the Year.
In his acceptance of the award, he did not take credit for it and instead passed it on this his team and those who support Toyota’s “mobility for all” goals.
“On behalf of all 360,000 Toyota Team members around the world, thank you for this tremendous honor! If you don’t mind, however, I would like to change this award from car “person” of the year, to car “people” of the year… because it’s the collective effort of all our global employees, retailers and suppliers that has truly made Toyota what it is today! And I for one, couldn’t be a luckier… or a more grateful CEO,” Toyoda declared.
There were five finalists for this prestigious award that was created in 2018. To them, he said, “I would also like to thank and recognize the contributions of the entire automotive industry.”
“At Toyota we are very fortunate that we were able to protect the employment of our team members during COVID and to continue our work to meet the future challenges of our industry. As a company, we are dedicated to providing mobility for all… but we are equally committed to creating new ways to support the well-being of our planet and people everywhere.
This has been a difficult period in the history of the world, but it has also reminded us that people are what matters most… and if we at Toyota, can contribute some measure of happiness to their lives, it will be my never-ending goal to do just that.
Thank you again for this award… and to my fellow car lovers, see you on the track!” Toyoda said in accepting the award.
There were five finalists for this prestigious award that was created in 2018 to acknowledge and celebrate an individual who has made a significant contribution to the global automotive industry during the period January 1 to December 31, 2020. That contribution could include a significant impact to their brand or company or a significant safety, engineering, design or technical advancement.
The World Car Person of the Year award was created to acknowledge and celebrate an individual who has made a significant contribution to the global automotive industry during the period January 1 to December 31, 2020. That contribution could include a significant impact to their brand or company or a significant safety, engineering, design or technical advancement.
In addition to Toyoda, the top five finalists were, in alphabetical order:
Pratap Bose, Vice-President, Global Design, Tata Motors
Euisun Chung, Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group
Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer, Hyundai Motor Group
Tomiko Takeuchi, Program Manager, MX-30, Mazda Motor Corporation
Previous World Car Person of the Year recipients include Carlos Tavares, CEO of PSA Group (2020), the late Sergio Marchionne, CEO, FCA; Chairman, CNH Industrial; and Chairman and CEO, Ferrari (2019) and Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (2018).
The World Car Person of the Year award is just one of six awards handed out annually by the World Car Awards. The awards were inaugurated in 2003, and officially launched in January 2004, to reflect the reality of the global marketplace, as well as to recognize, reward, and inspire excellence, leadership, and innovation in a rapidly changing automotive industry.