Test­ing Africa's roads on the 5 Con­ti­nents Drive cam­paign

Toyota Connect/Lexus Life - - CONTENTS - Op­po­site and above: The 2015 Drive Project in North Amer­ica.

Be­tween the end of Au­gust and early No­vem­ber this year, Toy­ota em­ploy­ees take to the road across Africa as part of its 5 Con­ti­nents Drive Project, which seeks to dis­cover the road con­di­tions of each con­ti­nent so that the man­u­fac­turer can pro­duce even bet­ter cars that re­spond to the needs of its cus­tomers. Cru­cially, the ex­er­cise aims to of­fer par­tic­i­pants greater in­sight into the kind of Toy­ota ve­hi­cles that would be most suit­able for the fu­ture.

The jour­ney across Africa is the fourth leg of the 5 Con­ti­nents Drive Project. The pre­vi­ous three edi­tions of it saw Toy­ota crews go­ing to Aus­tralia in 2014, the Amer­i­cas in 2015 and 2016, and Eu­rope last year. Two Toy­ota teams cov­ered east­ern and south­ern Africa – Tan­za­nia, Zim­babwe, Zam­bia, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and SA – and there were 80 mem­bers in to­tal.

This year’s con­ti­nen­tal drive is car­ried out un­der the um­brella of Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing and in­volved Toy­ota em­ploy­ees from Ja­pan, Suzuki Mo­tors, Hino Mo­tors and Toy­ota Auto Body. These avid mo­tor­ing afi­ciona­dos get a chance to drive on the roads Toy­ota cus­tomers use daily, with the aim of strength­en­ing the col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis of ac­tual driv­ing data, which can’t be ob­tained on a test track.

The African edi­tion of the project in­volves the use of 4WD ve­hi­cles such as the Land Cruiser, Hilux and For­tuner. This is a stroke of ge­nius, as the ter­rain tra­versed in­cludes ex­treme en­vi­ron­ments such as un­paved roads, high-alti­tude moun­tain passes, sa­faris and deserts. How­ever, the trusty Toy­otas are han­dling them­selves ad­mirably and valu­able data is be­ing col­lected.

Even be­fore this year’s project got un­der­way, Akio Toy­oda, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion’s Pres­i­dent, was op­ti­mistic about its aims. “This year, we em­bark on the chal­lenge pre­sented by African roads. I’ve pre­vi­ously felt, when driv­ing across Africa, that cars aren’t merely a means of trans­port. In­stead, they’re in­dis­pens­able in en­abling peo­ple to go about their daily rou­tines and also pro­tect their lives. What type of ‘cher­ished ve­hi­cle’ do peo­ple gen­uinely de­sire? What sort of hap­pi­ness do cars give them?”

Toy­oda ex­plained that when the project team mem­bers re­turn to their work­places, they will be armed with new in­for­ma­tion which helps an­swer a fun­da­men­tal ques­tion for Toy­ota:


“How can we make even bet­ter cars that will put a smile on the faces of our cus­tomers?” He said the cam­paign would en­able the or­gan­i­sa­tion to build cars for con­di­tions that em­ploy­ees have seen and ex­pe­ri­enced them­selves.

The un­der­ly­ing spirit of Toy­ota’s 5 Con­ti­nents Drive is to al­low the car man­u­fac­turer to con­tinue tak­ing on new chal­lenges, while re­spect­ing its roots. Toy­ota aims to build cars that will de­fine the next 100 years.

Top:The 2016 Drive Project in Latin Amer­ica.Above and left:The 2017 Drive Project in Eu­rope.Op­po­site:The 2014 Drive Project in Aus­tralia.

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