Akio’s Texas Two-Step

Akio Toyoda returns to North America for his annual New Year’s message

January 11, 2019
It's Back! -- Akio Toyoda took the Texas stage Friday adorned in a t-shirt tipping the latest version of the Supra. 

For the second year in a row, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda visited the company’s North America headquarters in North Texas to deliver a global message to team members worldwide.
Toyoda gave a wide-ranging address that touched on looming tariff concerns, emerging autonomous vehicle technologies and the next frontier of mobility innovation. But team members were also treated to an exhilarating sneak peek – the much hyped and highly anticipated all-new Supra – three days ahead of its official unveiling at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. 
“On Monday, I’m going to reveal the newest generation of a car that’s been near and dear to my heart for a very long time,” Toyoda said. “A car I’m happy to say is finally making its long-awaited return. The new Toyota Supra is back! I mean, is that car totally lit or what?”
He didn’t leave Lexus out, either. Toyoda shared video of a new SUV concept likely coming soon.
“As you know, SUVs are what everybody wants these days,” Toyoda said. “So why not make them even better than we already do?”
It was a splashy start for a message that mapped out a busy year ahead for 2019.
Get your Sockios -- TMNA CEO Jim Lentz gave his boss a special pair of socks adorned with his image. Known as Sockios, North American team members will have chances to get their own pair throughout 2019. 
  • Tariff threat – Toyoda was up front about his concerns and uncertainty over President Trump’s threat to levy tariffs on automakers. The president has signaled he may use section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to put a 25 percent tariff on foreign cars – a move that would increase the prices of Toyota and Lexus vehicles and, as a result, have significant impact on sales. Last year, the president asked the Commerce Department to investigate whether imported vehicles constituted a national security threat. “As a company that has invested nearly 26 billion dollars in the U.S. and directly employs 37,000 people here, not to mention almost 150,000 suppliers and dealers, you can imagine how I feel about being called a threat to national security,” Toyoda said. “But we will continue to be good corporate citizens. Not just because we should, but because that’s what we’ve always been."
  • Four areas of focus – Toyoda outlined four areas of focus for the company’s future: Connected, Autonomous, Sharing and Electric (CASE). He highlighted investments and partnerships with companies like Uber, Amazon and Shell – and our own technology in development at Toyota Connected and the Toyota Research Institute – to position the company as an industry leader not just today, but well into the future.
  • Expanded production – Toyoda pointed out two big partnerships adding to the company’s capabilities for the future: a new joint-venture plant with Mazda in Huntsville, Alabama, which will produce about 300,000 vehicles for the U.S. and abroad. In Europe, Toyota will have a majority stake in a Peugeot Citroen plant in the Czech Republic opening in 2021.
Party Time -- As Akio Toyoda addressed team members in Plano, viewing parties formed at Toyota offices around the nation, just like this one at the PEMC in Kentucky. . 

Toyoda also took time to honor this year’s President’s Award winners. Nominees from across the United States were judged on criteria that embody the “Toyota Way.” Read more about the winners here.

Toyoda ended with a message of thanks to the hundreds of thousands of team members around the globe for their hard work, determination, enthusiasm and patience. He pointed to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as proof of what’s possible when people work together as a team. In fact, he says that’s one of the reasons Toyota became an Olympic sponsor.
“Let us lead by example with integrity, humility and respect for others,” Toyoda said. “Because the Toyota Way is more than just words. It’s a guiding light – a reflection of who we are as a company. And it’s our duty to shine that light everywhere we can. So let’s inspire the world with our actions, with our hearts, and with our imagination. Together we can do it. Because together, we are Toyota.”
By Kristen Orsborn


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