The President of Toyota Motor Corporation Akio Toyoda received the Issigonis Trophy, the highest personal honour awarded by Autocar, the world’s oldest automotive magazine.
The trophy, named after the celebrated car designer Sir Alec Issigonis, creator of the Mini, was announced at a ceremony hosted at the Silverstone Circuit on 15th May.
Mark Tisshaw, Autocar Editor said: “This is our highest accolade and our most prestigious and most personal award. It goes to Mr Toyoda in recognition of the quite incredible job he has done at the helm of Toyota and Lexus. He has been proved right on so many issues and it is inspiring to see him do such diverse things as lead the agenda on future powertrain technologies and bring back cars that appeal to the enthusiast, all while selling a vast amount of ever-more desirable cars.”
Honouring Issigonis, Akio Toyoda was filmed arriving in Toyota City driving a classic Mini. He said: “I am very honoured to receive the Issigonis Trophy because I feel it represents a link between our industry’s great past and its future.”
Paying tribute to his grandfather, Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, he said, in fact, he was accepting the award on his behalf, rather than for himself. He continued: “Today, in the midst of the greatest transformation the auto industry has experienced in the past hundred years, I feel that Kiichiro is behind me, saying: ‘You should face it with challenging spirits’. In this greatest transformation, what we do not forget is that our core business, cars, is much more than pieces of metal. They represent the freedom to move. And when you are free to move, anything is possible.”
He paid a tribute to the Mini, a car he owned during the 1980’s whilst living and working in London. He said: “For me, it is the kind of car we should all dream of making. Affordable, simple and as fun to drive as a go-kart. Even if in the future people go to work in autonomous pods, as industry leaders it is also our job to keep making cars like this.”
Mr Toyoda became Toyota President in 2009 leading the company in a programme of innovation and development aiming to provide everyone with access to the world through the freedom of mobility. Additionally, Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 sets high goals for significant reductions in the environmental impact of every aspect of their company’s global operations and its products. Toyota pursues to both protect and enhance the environment and is leading the development of electrified powertrains.