In the early years after Toyota Motor Corporation was established, there was an incident where a company using a Toyota G1 lorry contacted a dealer to get assistance because it broke down. It so happened that Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota, heard about the matter at the same time and personally led a team of engineers to where the dealer’s service staff were repairing the vehicle. Besides providing assistance, the engineers wanted to find out what has caused the breakdown. They had their answer and quickly relayed it back to the factory where alterations were made to prevent the same problem from occurring.
In the years and decades to follow, this episode would serve to demonstrate the importance and value of ‘Genchi Genbutsu’, a Japanese phrase which is a way of thinking where information is gained and decisions made based on personal viewing of the problem, not just relying on reports by others. Seeing or experiencing the problem firsthand is deemed the best way to get to the source of what was wrong. “When a problem arises, the shortest route to final resolution is to return to the source and pinpoint what is truly wrong,” was the constant reminder from Toyoda.
‘Genchi Genbutsu’ is partly what the Toyota 5 Continents Drive Project is all about; as the name indicates, the drive goes through 5 continents of the world, enabling Toyota personnel to see and experience the different conditions and cultures where Toyota sells its vehicles. It’s not been a continuous drive since 2014 when it started in Australian but has been a yearly exercise, with Asia being the last continent.
Inspired by Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, the 5 Continents Drive Project aims to make product improvements with a more deeply informed approach, ultimately delivering ever-better cars to customers around the world.
The total distance travelled since 2014 has been approximately 103,000 kms. Data collected has already been flowing back to Toyota City, with improvements made in various areas as a result of the participants understanding issues. Toyota employees travelling in many different countries on 4 continents prior to Asia have had experiences and gained knowledge that cannot be gained simply from driving cars on test courses or simulated in climatic chambers.
There have not just been improvements for products but also in manufacturing and white-collar management areas such as logistics, costing, etc. Although the Toyota 5 Continents Drive Project will conclude next year, this is ongoing process and learnings will continue to be implemented into future models as well, thus promoting sustainable development.
Recently, the convoy of vehicles for the Asian leg travelled through Malaysia after having started in the Middle East in February this year and then passing through India. It is the first part of the Asian leg which will conclude next year when Japan hosts the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Akio Takeyama, Chief Motorsports Officer and also the Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Motor, flagged off the convoy from S&D Tama, an authorized Toyota dealership in Penang. There were 9 Toyota vehicles in this leg of the 5 Continents Drive Project – Hilux, Fortuner, Innova, Vios, Corolla, Rush, CH-R and Yaris.
“We are delighted that Malaysia is included in the Toyota 5 Continents Drive Project, a project that is of high priority to Toyota Motor Corporation,” said Mr. Takeyama. “The varied conditions of roads and traffic should provide the participants with valuable insights that can help them develop ever-better cars for our customers.”
The route included a drive up the steep slopes of Cameron Highlands, providing an experience of the different humidity levels in the country as well as the road conditions. The convoy then continued south to Singapore with a stop at Shah Alam, Selangor, where UMW Toyota Motor’s head office is located. The participants were briefed on the company’s background, activities, customer profiles, local market conditions and GAZOO Racing (GR) initiatives in Malaysia. After the Malaysian leg ended, the convoy crossed over to Singapore. The remaining countries for the Asian leg are Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“Toyota has always made reliable cars but today’s customers have more demands, so ‘good’ is no longer enough and we need to offer great cars,” said Ravindran K., President of UMW Toyota Motor. “The Toyota 5 Continents Drive Project should help towards developing ever-better cars.”
The 5 Continents Drive Project is carried out under the umbrella of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing initiatives. In Malaysia, the GR Brand is one of the key pillars for brand messaging which includes the Toyota GR Festival, GR Velocity Esports Championship and the recently-introduced GR Garage concept. Malaysia is the first country outside of Japan to adopt this concept for specifically showcasing GR models like the all-new Supra and related products.
To know more about Toyota vehicles available in Malaysia, visit www.toyota.com.my .