Testing Africa's roads on the 5 Continents Drive campaign
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:
THE 5 CONTINENTS DRIVE CAMPAIGN WILL ENABLE TOYOTA TO BUILD CARS FOR CONDITIONS THAT EMPLOYEES HAVE SEEN AND EXPERIENCED THEMSELVES.
“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.