Reader's Rides: It's Good To Be Akio Toyoda

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Today, I happened to be at Toyota’s Tokyo headquarters in order to personally get to the bottom of numbers nobody seems to care about. There was a minor riot in the usually zen-like lobby of 1-4-18 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku. TTAC was there to investigate …

Toyota employees, who usually pass the cars on display in the reception area without the slightest hesitation, rushed to a matte-black Lexus LFA parked near the entrance. One woman touched the car as if it was a sacred object.

Another man impulsively checked himself. It is hot again in Tokyo, and people start to perspire. “Do I also?” asked this man before he approached the black car.

The matte-black LFA looked like any other $375,000 supercar Lexus makes in Motomachi. Except …

This is a used car! A used car in Toyota’s holy halls? It looks new to you? Have a look at this:

Spend some time in Japan, and you will run into the dreaded Shaken sticker. Shaken is the third degree the Japanese government gives people’s cars after three years when the cars are new, and then every two, to make sure that the cars are in working order, allegedly. The examination is so expensive and so rigorous that many Japanese rather buy a new car, much to the joy of the Japanese car industry. Most Japanese prefer “pika-pika” (new and shiny) over “boro-boro” (old and tired) anyway.

Now, for some Shaken arcana. The Shaken sticker of the matte black LFA expires in December of the 25th year of the current Heisei period of Emperor Akihito. Heisei 25 equals 2013, deduct three years …. OMG, this car was registered in December of 2010!

This makes it one of the first cars of the very limited 500 car production run of the LFA. Production of the LFA started in December 2010. Who owns that rare used car?

Discreet inquiries produced the suggestion that the owner of the used car works at Toyota. It is Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota. The suspicion was confirmed when a polite lady approached the crowd, bowed, and said:

Sumimasen, he needs his car back.”

PS: The image quality may not be up to TTAC standards. The pictures were taken with my cellphone, and my hands were shaken …


Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Juniper Juniper on May 16, 2012

    The lady in the red shoes with the pink purse is saying "OMG look at that stupid scoop". Other than that great car.

    • Daiheadjai Daiheadjai on May 16, 2012

      As long as it's functional, I'm prepared to give a pass.

  • GS650G GS650G on May 17, 2012

    Shaken is a real bitch. From ball joints to fan belts and windshield wipers, the car needs to be practically fault free. I knew a few Japanese who drove older cars and they all had "connections" to help them get a sticker. For us Gaijin it's not even possible to argue that the nearly new tires don't need replacing. Motorcycles get the same treatment, at least there are fewer items to worry about.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
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