For the first time in four years, Toyota hosted on Jan. 30 a major news conference to disclose motorsports activities for 2014, introduce the drivers and show off the cars involved. The event is attended by no other than Toyota president Akio Toyoda, a sign that he is set to go on the offensive. The preview was an annual event in Toyota’s calendar until November 2009 when the carmaker announced it was Formula One.
Back then, Toyota had no choice but to withdraw from F1 as it was when the world was suffering from a financial crisis and Japanese carmaker had just posted net loss for the fiscal year ended March 2009. Since then, Toyota has kept a low profile and had to endure unintentional acceleration recalls and the earthquake-tsunami in Japan that substantially trimmed its inventory.
The carmaker, however, made it through and has even recovered its crown as the world’s largest carmaker. Most of all, it is now back on the racetrack.
The revived preview was graced by Toyoda and his top executives like global r&d chief Mitsuhisa Kato, as well as a group of professional drivers that will pilot Toyota- and Lexus-backed cars on races this year like NASCAR's Kyle Busch and the drivers of Toyota's TS040 Hybrid Le Mans racer and the LFA Code X car at Nurburgring. The drivers were presented at Toyota's Mega Web showroom on the Tokyo waterfront, with the cars being shown off throughout.