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Is “The Prince” Up To Running Toyota?

by DrivingEnthusiast

Image: Toyota Holds Press Conference On Prius Recall Progress

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, nicknamed “The Price”, and the grandson of the founder, is an accomplished engineer and sports car enthusiast. He was responsible for creating the Lexus LFA and pushing it thru the system. He drove an LFA prototype in two 24 hour endurance races at the Nurburgring.

But is he up to running one of the largest car companies in the world? Does he have the skill sets needed to lead the company thru the recall crisis? This is not just a matter of engineering, or new products – this crisis is about leadership before it can even begin to address any of Toyota’s other problems.

Read more in this article in MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35479683/ns/business-autos/

Now that he has (finally) agreed to testify before the U.S. Congress this coming week, we’ll have the opportunity to see if he has the necessary authority and spokesman-ship skills. He’ll be speaking thru a translator, which will make the session more difficult. And, no doubt, he’ll be stuck listening to the political grandstanding these types of congressional sessions are infamous for (you’ll remember the bailout hearings last year, with all kinds of nutjobs tooting their own horns… and very little serious business conducted).

This crisis has been a long time in the making: we knew that Toyota has slid into dull and indistinct products over the past several years. With almost nothing for the enthusiast (and the famous brands MR-2, Celica, and Supra long dead) and milquetoast cars for other buyers. Nobody suspected that engineering had also deteriorated so far. That’s going to be the bigger challenge for Toyoda to solve in the long run – turning around engineering and product development.

For the enthusiast, the first step in the rivaval of Toyta means bringing the FT-86 prototype to market – preferably as the new Celica. And not just as a weak-knee’d 200-HP naturally aspirtated model. We’re expecting to get the full benefit of the Subaru partnership it the form of a 300 HP turbocharged 2 liter engine. This won’t be a mainstream Toyota, but it will be available to everyone and it wil bring some much-needed interest to the showroom.

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