“The Caetano plant in Portugal is a symbolic location for the official start of this ground-breaking project on this Continent, as it is here that the first Toyota vehicles were built in Europe, 46 years ago”, says Dr Johan Van Zyl, President & CEO of Toyota Motor Europe.
As part of President Akio Toyoda’s drive to creating Ever-Better cars, in 2014, Toyota Motor Corporation embarked on a seven-year research and development project of unparalleled scale: a continuous global initiative to put Toyota vehicles to the ultimate test, across every possible terrain and climate on every continent worldwide.
The itinerary takes in some of the most punishing terrains that each continent has to offer, visiting key Toyota facilities on the way. It’s not just going down the paths well-trodden; it is about encountering the unknown, and finding new places to drive.
“Roads train people, and people make cars”; that ethos has been the backbone of the Five Continents Drive project. It is about enabling engineers to get out from behind their work desks to feel the road, to experience first-hand how vehicle performance is impacted by the wide variety of driving conditions around the world and to gather new insights. By connecting with customers in a meaningful way and listening to their voices, Toyota can better understand their needs and usage patterns.
The first two continents covered on the Five Continents Drive have been completed safely with resounding success and inspiring feedback from those who have participated. From Australia (2014) to North America (2015) and Latin America (2016), nearly 70,000 km of roads have been covered in the pursuit of creating better, cleaner and safer vehicles.
Known as the birthplace of the automotive industry, Europe offers a totally different set of challenges and opportunities to the continents that have preceded it on this project. The remarkable blend of politics, history, culture and laws have created driving conditions that are unique to each European country.
“Europe is one of the world’s most –if not the most– demanding and competitive automotive markets”, continues Dr. Van Zyl. “It is an extremely important region to Toyota because it helps us to benchmark the quality and performance of our products in a market that requires the highest standards to be met.”
Over the course of eight weeks a convoy of Toyota and Lexus models will cover around 13,000 km in Europe’s western and southern countries, before arriving at the Toyota Motor Europe headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
A second four-week winter expedition will take in the north and east, covering 6,000 km. Starting in Copenhagen, Denmark, it will conclude at the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team factory in Puppola, Finland.
After visiting Europe this year, the seven-year cycle will then progress onto Africa and into Asia where the project will conclude in 2020 in Japan. That year will see Tokyo host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Toyota is a TOP partner for the Games, providing sustainable mobility to the entire Olympic and Paralympic movement.
About Toyota Motor Europe:
Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA (TME) oversees the wholesale sales and marketing of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, parts and accessories, and Toyota’s European manufacturing and engineering operations. Toyota directly employs around 20,000 people in Europe and has invested over EUR 9 billion since 1990. Toyota’s operations in Europe are supported by a network of 30 National Marketing and Sales Companies across 53 countries, a total of around 3,000 sales outlets, and nine manufacturing plants. In 2016, Toyota sold 928,488 Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Europe. For more information, visit www.toyota-europe.com
About Toyota Caetano Portugal:
Established in 1946 with chassis activity, Toyota Caetano Portugal, SA (TCAP) signed its commercial tie with Toyota in 1968, and currently oversees the import and commercialization of Toyota and Lexus commercial and passenger vehicles, parts, accessories and technical support in Portugal. TCAP is also responsible for the import, commercialization and after sales assistance of load movement machines (Toyota e BT). In Portugal, TCAP directly employs around 500 people. Its operations are supported by a network of 25 retailers, 45 showrooms and 57 after sales outlets and includes the Ovar manufacturing plant, which was the first plant to assemble Toyota vehicles in Europe in 1971. In the last decades it has Assembled Toyota light commercials models, and currently assembles Land Cruiser 70 series for Export. In 2016, Toyota sold 10,238 Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Portugal. For more information, visit www.toyota.pt